Current Affairs in Short: 21 October 2021
The Supreme Court of India has reopened for physical hearings for the first time since March 2020 after the closing of physical hearings due to COVID-19.
US govt to make COVID19 vaccination easily accessible, free for kids 5-11 years
•The Biden administration on October 21, 2021, announced its plan to roll out the COVID-19 vaccine for children ages between 5 to 11 years and make vaccination of kids in this age group a convenient, easily accessible, and free process.
•The vaccination program for children aged 5 to 11 years in the US is subject to FDA and CDC approval, process, and timeline. The US government has secured enough shots to vaccinate all 28 million children aged 5 to 11 years against COVID-19.
•If authorized by the FDA and CDC, the US government will make the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine easily accessible equitably for this age group through vaccination clinics, hospitals, offices, pharmacies, community health centers, more than 25,000 pediatric and primary care provider sites.
•In another feat, the US-regulators FDA and CDC on October 20, 2021, authorized the mixing of Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine thereby expanding the COVID-19 boosters campaign in the US.
•The FDA authorized the third shot of Moderna for seniors and those at high risk of COVID-19, six months after getting fully vaccinated. The third shot will be half the dose than the earlier two shots. For J&J single-shot vaccine, all US recipients will get a second dose after two months of their first shot.
Russian President Vladimir Putin orders week-long paid holiday to curb COVID-19 infections
•Russian President Vladimir Putin on October 20, 2021, ordered a nationwide week-long paid holiday to curb rising COVID-19 infections in Russia. The week-long holiday will be declared from October 30 extending throughout the week.
•As per Russia’s Task Force, the country has reported 1,028 deaths and 34,000 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours. This is the highest death toll in Russia since March 2020. The total COVID-19 death toll of Russia is 2,26,353.
•Approximately 32 per cent of the 145 million population of Russia is fully vaccinated against COVID-19. However, with more than 8 million infections and 2.26 lakh deaths, Russia is the 5th worst-COVID-19-affected country in the world.
PMGK Package: Insurance scheme for health workers fighting COVID-19 extended
•The insurance scheme for healthcare workers fighting COVID-19 under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package (PMGKP) has been extended for another 180 days w.e.f October 21, 2021. The scheme initially ended on October 20.
•The extension of the scheme under PMGKP will aid in offering a safety net to the dependents of health workers who are taking care of COVID-19 patients. To date, 1,351 claims have been paid under the scheme.
•The insurance scheme for healthcare workers fighting COVID-19 under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package was launched on March 30, 2020, to offer comprehensive personal accident cover of Rs 50 lakh to 22.12 lakh healthcare workers. These include private health workers and community health workers who might have been in direct contact or caretaking of COVID-19 patients.
Supreme Court reopens for physical hearing for first time since March 2020
•The Supreme Court of India on October 21, 2021, reopened for physical hearings for the first time since March 2020 after the closing of physical hearings due to COVID-19.
•The SC has issued new SOPs for hybrid hearings. The Supreme Court Bar Association had requested the Chief Justice to switch back to the physical mode of hearing since the considerable decline trajectory in COVID-19 cases.
•As per new SOPs, all cases on Wednesdays and Thursdays are to be heard only in the physical presence of the counsels/parties in the courtroom. There will be a 15-minutes break during physical hearings at the discretion of the Bench.
•During intervals, the courtrooms are to be vacated for sanitation purposes. Lawyers will be called in one after the other. Journalists are to be allowed to witness physical hearings while adhering to COVID protocols, said SC on October 20.
CBDT issues refunds of Rs 92,961 crores to 63.23 lakh taxpayers, says Income Tax Dept
•The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has issued refunds of more than Rs 92,961 crores to more than 63.23 lakh taxpayers from April 1 to October 18, 2021, said the Income Tax Department on October 21, 2021.
•The refund amount from April 1 to October 18, 2021 included income tax refunds of Rs 23,026 crores for 61,53,231 cases and corporate tax refunds of Rs 69,934 crores for 1,69,355 cases. The amount also includes 32.49 lakh refunds for Assessment Year 2021-22 that is Rs 2,498.18 crores.
•On September 22, 2021, CBDT had issued refunds of more than Rs 74,158 crores to more than 45.25 lakh taxpayers between April 1 and September 20, 2021.
•The refund amount between April 1 and September 20, 2021 included income tax refunds of Rs 18,873 crores for 43,68,741 cases and corporate tax refunds of Rs 55,285 crores for 1,55,920 cases. The amount also included 17.45 lakh refunds for Assessment Year 2021-22 amounting to Rs 1,350.4 crores.
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