Factly articles for November 19, 2020

11 min read

Explained: What is Chapare virus?

News: United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) has announced that the ‘Chapare virus’ that causes Ebola-like illness can spread through human-to-human transmission.

Facts:

  • Chapare Virus: It is caused by the same arenavirus family that is responsible for illnesses such as the Ebola virus disease(EVD).
  • Origin: It was first discovered in 2004 in Bolivian province of Chapare, from where it gets its name.Though it disappeared in 2004, an outbreak last year infected at least five people.
  • Hosts: Chapare virus are generally carried by rats and can be transmitted through direct contact with the infected rodent, its urine and droppings or through contact with an infected person.
  • Symptoms: Some symptoms of Chapare are fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, bleeding gums, skin rash and pain.
  • Treatment: Since there are no specific drugs to treat the disease, patients generally receive supportive care such as intravenous fluids.

Two supercomputers from India in TOP500 list, one in top 100

News: Two supercomputers from India — PARAM Siddhi-AI and Mihir have made it to the TOP500 list of the world’s most powerful supercomputers as they have been ranked 63rd and 146th respectively.

Facts:

  • Param Siddhi: It is a 5.267 Petaflops high performance computing-artificial intelligence(HPC-AI) supercomputer.
    • Built by: It is jointly built by the Department of Science and Technology and Ministry of Electronics and IT under the National Supercomputing Mission and was conceptualised by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing(CDAC).
    • Applications: Advanced materials, education, space, agriculture, defence and national security, computational chemistry, drug design and preventive healthcare systems as well as flood forecasting.
  • Mihir: It is a 2.8 Petaflop supercomputer which has been operational at the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecast (NCMRWF), Noida.
    • Purpose: It is one of the powerful systems owned by the Ministry of Earth Sciences and has helped improve India’s forecasting skills.

Global Strategy to Accelerate the Elimination of Cervical Cancer

News: World Health Organization(WHO) has launched the Global Strategy to Accelerate the Elimination of Cervical Cancer.

Facts:

  • Objective: To accelerate the elimination of cervical cancer with the aim to reduce more than 40% of new cases and 5 million related deaths by 2050.
  • Targets: The strategy says that meeting the following targets by 2030 will place all countries on the path toward elimination:
    • 90% of girls fully vaccinated with the HPV vaccine by 15 years of age
    • 70% of women screened using a high-performance test by age 35 and again by 45
    • 90% of women identified with cervical disease receive treatment (90% of women with pre-cancer treatment and 90% of women with invasive cancer managed).

Additional Facts:

  • Cervical cancer: It is a type of cancer that starts in the cervix.The cervix is a hollow cylinder that connects the lower part of a woman’s uterus to her vagina.
  • Cases: Cervical Cancer is the fourth most common cancer among women globally.Worldwide, an estimated 5% of all cervical cancer cases are attributable to HIV.
  • Cervical Cancer in India:
    • India recorded the highest estimated number of cervical cancer deaths in 2018, according to a research paper published in the Lancet Global Health.
    • Concern: Human Papillomavirus(HPV) vaccines for preventing cervical cancer are yet to be a part of the national immunisation programme in India and only a few states such as Delhi and Punjab have included it in their state health programmes.

United Nations launches “Team Halo” to counter misinformation around COVID-19 vaccines

News: United Nations(UN) has collaborated with The Vaccine Confidence Project at the University of London to launch the “Team Halo” initiative.

Facts:

  • Aim: To counter the misinformation around Covid-19 vaccines.
  • Features: Under this, scientists will build confidence among the public by busting myths and sharing information on the safety and effectiveness of vaccines via the social media.

Explained: The Guillain Barre Syndrome some Covid-19 patients develop

News: In a rare complication, some patients infected with Covid-19 have been found suffering from Guillain Barre Syndrome(GBS).

Facts:

  • Guillain Barre Syndrome(GBS): It is a rare neurological disorder in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks part of its peripheral nervous system—the network of nerves located outside of the brain and spinal cord.
  • Symptoms: Tingling or itching sensation in the skin, followed by muscle weakness, pain and numbness.A person then starts experiencing reflex loss and paralysis which may be temporary but can last for 6-12 months or longer.
  • Treatment: Intravenous immunoglobulin(IVIG) and sometimes plasma therapy helps recovery in patients with GBS.Some patients may develop severe complications and require intensive care treatment or ventilator support.

Study highlights online education woes

News: The study titled “Myths of Online Education” was conducted by the Azim Premji University to examine the efficacy and accessibility of online education.

Facts:

Key Takeaways from the study:

  • Inadequate access: More than 60% children who are enrolled in government schools could not access online education; reasons for this include non-availability of or an inadequate number of smartphones for dedicated use or sharing, and difficulty in using the apps for online learning.
  • Access in Disabled Students: More than 90% of teachers working with children with disabilities found them unable to participate in online classes.
  • Online education is ineffective: More than 80% teachers expressed the impossibility of maintaining emotional connect with children during online classes, thus eliminating the very basis of education.
  • Parents support reopening of schools: Almost 90% of parents are willing to send their children to school if the health of their children is taken care of when schools reopen.

Explained: What are deemed forests?

News: Karnataka Forest Minister has announced that the state government would soon declassify 6.64 lakh hectares of the 9.94 lakh hectares of deemed forests in the state (nearly 67%) and hand it over to Revenue authorities.

Facts:

  • Deemed Forest: The concept of deemed forests has not been clearly defined in any law including the Forest Conservation Act of 1980.
  • However, the Supreme Court in the case of T N Godavarman Thirumulpad(1996) had broadened the definition of forest to include not just land classified as forest under forest or revenue departments but also those that are forests according to the definition of a forest.
  • It had also asked states to form committees to identify forests, irrespective of the nature of land ownership or whether they are notified, recognised or classified in a time-bound manner.
  • Hence, an expert committee constituted by the Karnataka government after the Supreme Court order identified ‘deemed forests’ as “land having the characteristic of forests irrespective of the ownership’”.