Factly articles for 19th May 2020

1.Baltics open Europe’s first pandemic ‘travel bubble’

News: The Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have opened their borders to one another creating the first travel bubble within the European Union.


  • Baltic Travel Bubble: It aims to facilitate the citizens of these three Baltic countries to travel within the region without hassles.However, those who are coming from any other countries would be required to follow self-isolation guidelines and stay in quarantine for exactly 14 days.
  • Travel Bubble: It involves reconnecting countries or states that have shown a good level of success in containing the novel coronavirus pandemic domestically.Such a bubble would allow the members of the group to rekindle trade ties with each other and kickstart sectors such as travel and tourism

Additional Facts:

  • Baltic States: is a geopolitical term typically used to group the three sovereign states in Northern Europe on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea namely Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

2.India-World Bank: Social Protection Response Programme

News: The World Bank has announced a $1 billion assistance under the proposed Accelerating India’s COVID-19 Social Protection Response Programme.


  • Aim: To support India’s efforts at providing social assistance to the poor and vulnerable households severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Implementation: It will be implemented by the Ministry of Finance, Government of India.
  • Funding: It will be funded in two phases – an immediate allocation of $750 million for fiscal year 2020 and a $250 million second tranche that will be made available for fiscal year 2021:
    • The first phase will be implemented through the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY).
    • In the second phase, additional cash and in-kind benefits based on local needs will be extended through state governments and portable social protection delivery systems.

3.Challenge COVID-19 Competition(C3)

News: National Innovation Foundation (NIF) has identified several Science and Tech based innovative solutions through the Challenge Covid-19 Competition (C3) to tackle Covid-19 pandemic.


  • Challenge Covid-19 Competition(C3): It aims to engage innovative citizens to come up with ideas and innovations to manage coronavirus pandemic and its consequences.

Additional Facts:

  • NIF: It was set up in 2000 as an autonomous body under the Department of Science and Technology.
  • Aim: To help India become a creative and knowledge-based society by expanding policy and institutional space for grassroots technological innovators.

4.New Research: Why does age make it more difficult to fight Covid-19?

News: New research has identified the microRNAs play a key role in combating Covid-19.


  • MicroRNA were first discovered by the scientists in the mid-1990s.They are tiny fragments of RNA genetic sequence produced within the cells.
  • They are non-coding molecules meaning that they do not translate into protein.
  • They are part of our line of attack against a viral infection by latching on to the virus’s genetic material (RNA) and cutting it.
  • However, these MicroRNAs decrease with age due to underlying health conditions. Hence,this may explain why older adults and people with certain health concerns are more likely to die if they contract COVID-19.

5.Rare palm from Andamans gets second home

News: Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute (JNTBGRI) has given Pinanga andamanensis its second home at Palode,Kerala.


  • Pinanga andamanensis: It is one of the critically endangered endemic palm species from the South Andaman Islands.
  • It’s name is derived from ‘Penang’, the modern-day Malaysian state and it resembles the Areca Palm.
  • It was originally described by the Italian botanist Odoardo Beccari in 1934 based on an old herbarium specimen collected by E.H. Man,an assistant superintendent in the Andaman administration.
  • Its entire population of some 600 specimens naturally occurs only in a tiny, evergreen forest pocket in South Andaman’s Mount Harriet National Park.
  • Uses: Its use are yet to be understood fully.But this palm holds promise as an avenue tree for gardens, pavements and homesteads.
  • Threats: Natural calamities such as cyclones, earthquakes and rampaging by wild elephants among others.

6.Madhya Pradesh launches Charan Paduka initiative

News: Charan Paduka is a first of its kind Initiative started by Madhya Pradesh Police for migrant labourers passing through the state.Under this, the migrant labourers going barefoot are being provided shoes and slippers to reduce their pain.

7.Aarogya Setu: Who all can access your data, and when?

News: Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology has issued a data-sharing and knowledge-sharing protocol for the Aarogya Setu app.


Key Features of the Protocol:

  • Nodal Ministry: Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) is designated as the nodal agency for implementation of the Protocol.
  • Data Collection: National Informatics Centre(NIC) will be responsible for collection, processing and managing response data collected under the app.
  • Categories of Data: The data collected by app is divided into four categories: demographic data, contact data, self-assessment data and location data.This is collectively called response data.
  • Sharing of Data: Collected data can be shared with any government department or ministry which can also pass it on to third parties for the purpose to directly formulate or implement appropriate health responses.
  • Data Deletion:Location and self-assessment data of an individual shall be permanently deleted after 180 days with some exceptions.However, Individuals can seek deletion of demographic data within 30 days of raising a request.
  • Research: Government will allow research institutes to study the data collected by the app after it has undergone hard anonymisation – a process to scrub it of personally identifiable information.
  • Violation: The violation of the protocol will lead to the penalties under the Disaster Management Act, 2005.

Additional Facts:

Aarogya- Setu App:

  • It has been developed through Public Private partnership under the guidance of National Informatics Centre(NIC), Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology(MeitY).
  • Purpose: To enable people to assess the risk of catching the Corona Virus infection based on their interaction with others using cutting edge Bluetooth technology, algorithms and artificial intelligence.

8.Cyclone Amphan likely to impact Odisha and West Bengal

News: Cyclone Amphan is likely to be a Category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale which is expected to make landfall between West Bengal and Bangladesh close to Sundarbans.


Categorization of Cyclones:

  • Category 1: Wind speed of 119-153 km/h- negligible house damage, some damage to trees and crops.
  • Category 2: Destructive winds of 154-177km/h- Minor house damage, significant damage to trees, crops and vehicles, risk of power failure.
  • Category 3: Very destructive winds of 178-209km/h- Some roof and structural damage, some caravans destroyed, power failure likely.
  • Category 4: Very destructive winds of 210-249km/h- Significant roofing loss and structural damage, vehicles blown away, widespread power failures.
  • Category 5: Very destructive winds speed of more than 250km/h- Catastrophic damage with widespread destruction.