SC directs Centre to ensure doctors, medical staff attending to Corona virus patients get appropriate PPE
The Supreme Court today directed the Centre to ensure that appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) are made available to doctors and medical staff attending to Coronavirus patients as they are the first line of defence of the country in the battle against COVID-19 pandemic.
Centre asks states to sensitize field agencies about exemptions given to farming activities; Also advises to ensure smooth movement of farm produce
Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister Narendra Singh Tomar chaired a meeting yesterday with State Agriculture Ministers to review relief measures taken for the farmers in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic.
Equity benchmark Sensex soared over 900 points in opening trade this morning led by gains in financial, IT and FMCG stocks following rise in global equities on hopes of the COVID-19 pandemic approaching its peak.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said India shall do everything possible to help humanity's fight against COVID-19.
The Odisha government today extended the lockdown till April 30 today that was supposed to end on April 15 amidst the rise in a number of positive COVID-19 cases across the state.
The Supreme Court today directed that COVID-19 tests in approved government labs or private laboratories should be conducted free of cost and the Centre should immediately issue directions in this regard.
Government has completed transfer of first installment of 500 rupees to around 20 crore women Jan Dhan account holders as part of relief package announced by it last month in the wake of COVID -19 outbreak.
Describing the ongoing situation arising out of COVID-19 outbreak as akin to a social emergency, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asserted that the priority of his government is to save each and every life.
20 COVID-19 hotspots sealed in Delhi to tackle spread of virus; UP govt seals hotspots in 15 districts
Delhi government has sealed 20 COVID-19 hotspots in the national capital to combat the spread of the novel virus.
US President Donald Trump today thanked India for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's decision to allow the export of anti malaria drug Hydroxychloroquine to the United States.
Interacting with leaders of political parties in Parliament, through video conferencing, the Prime Minister said that several state governments, district administrations and experts have asked for extension of the phase of lockdown to contain the spread of the virus.
Government has decided to issue all the pending income-tax refunds up to five lakh rupees immediately.
On 3rd April, the office of the District Collector for Mumbai City had requested assistance to provide relief to the large number of migrant labourers who are stranded in the lockdown. Acting on the request, the Western Naval Command promptly arranged around 250 ration packets on 4th April.
The packets contained adequate quantities of food items and these were handed over to the local authorities near Musaafir Khana and at the Collector Office near Asiatic Library. Distribution points were set up at Cuffe Parade and Kalba Devi.
On 8th April, an additional 500 ration packets were provided to the local authorities and also distributed amongst the stranded construction workers at Kamathipura area.
Meanwhile, state-owned SBI, which has the highest number of PMJDY accounts, asked the beneficiaries not to believe in rumours that the money will be taken away by the government if not withdrawn amid large numbers of people flocking banks.
As a result of this, there are rush at bank branches leading to violation of social distancing guidelines to check the spread of coronavirus.
The Department of Financial Services (DFS) in a tweet said the government has deposited Rs 500 in the PMJDY accounts held by women for April and beneficiaries could withdraw it "any time".
"This amount (Rs 500) has reached your bank account and you can withdraw it any time," it said, and added Rs 500 will also be deposited during May as well in June.
The DFS, in the finance ministry, also asked the beneficiaries not to believe in rumours and withdraw the amount from ATM, customer service point or banks as per their convenience.
Of the total 38.08 crore accounts under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY), as many as 20.60 crore were held by women. As on April 1, the deposits in the PMJDY accounts stood at over Rs 1.19 lakh crore.
State Bank of India (SBI) further said, "We would like to assure our customers that the funds in your account will not be blocked or returned to the government."
The country's largest lender also asked the PMJDY account holders to withdraw money at their convenience anytime.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced this as part of the Rs 1.70-lakh crore relief package announced last month.
The minister had said as many as 20.5 crore women Jan Dhan account holders will get Rs 500 per month for next three months to run their households, a move aimed at mitigating the hardships caused by the lockdown.
Prime Minister Modi warmly recalled his visit to the Republic of Korea last year, and expressed satisfaction at the increasingly close ties between both countries.
The two leaders discussed COVID-19 global pandemic and the challenges it posed to the global health systems and economic situation. They shared information about the steps taken in their countries to tackle the pandemic.
Prime Minister expressed appreciation for the technology-based response deployed by the Republic of Korea for managing the crisis. President Moon Jai-In appreciated the way Indian authorities have motivated the vast Indian population for fighting the pandemic with unity of purpose.
The Korean President thanked Prime Minister for the support being provided by Indian authorities to Korean citizens in India.
Prime Minister expressed appreciation to the ROK government for facilitating supplies and transport of medical equipment being sourced by Indian companies.
The two leaders agreed that their experts would continue to consult each other and share experiences, as they research solutions for COVID-19.
Prime Minister conveyed his best wishes to President Moon for the forthcoming National Assembly Elections in ROK.
The idea -- named #PlayersTogether -- has been set up on Wednesday to "help those fighting for us on the NHS frontline" during the COVID-19 outbreak.
"It is about we, as players, collaborating together to create a voluntary initiative, separate to any other league and club conversation," a statement from the group said.
"To try and help, along with so many others in the country, to make a real difference," it added.
Individuals such as league leaders Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson, Tottenham's Harry Kane and Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang were among those to post on social media about the move.
Earlier this week, the Premier League proposed wage cuts of 30 percent but talks have hit a stumbling block, with the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) warning the NHS could suffer from the loss of tax receipts.
The league's chief executive Richard Masters admitted the virus fall-out could cost the top-flight "at least 1 billion pound" (USD 1.23 billion, 1.13 billion euros).
PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor said the players had "agreed to play their part" as pressure mounts to find a collective pay deal.
'Take our time'
England's top-flight stars had come under heavy fire over their lack of action, which contrasts sharply with significant pay cuts taken by players at other leading European clubs such as Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
Manchester United attacker Marcus Rashford defended his fellow players.
"I think there has been plenty of occasions, for me personally, where we've tried to help but we've not helped in the best way possible," Rashford told BT Sport.
"You can get some backlash from that. We wanted to take our time with the decision," he added.
British Health Secretary Matt Hancock was originally among senior politicians calling for players to take a cut and "play their part".
"Warmly welcome this big-hearted decision from so many Premier League footballers to create #PlayersTogether to support NHS Charities. You are playing your part," he tweeted after the Wednesday's announcement.
On Tuesday, English Football Association chief Greg Clarke called on players and fans to "share the pain to keep the game alive".
Appearing at an FA Council meeting, Clarke warned football faces economic challenges "beyond the wildest imagination of those who run it" as a result of the health emergency.
Spurs have come under pressure from fans to follow Jurgen Klopp's side in reversing their decision to use public money to pay employees.
The Reds, the European champions and the world's seventh richest club, ditched their controversial plan to furlough some of their non-playing staff during the virus on Monday after coming under intense pressure from ex-players and fans.
More than 60,000 people, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson who is being treated at an intensive care unit, have tested positive for COVID-19 in Britain, and more than 7,000 have died from the virus.
More than half of the deaths in the US -- about 8,100 were concentrated in the New York area, including the states of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, reports Efe news citing the update as saying.
New York state is the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak in the country.
In New York City alone, 4,571 people have died.
Michigan with 959 deaths, Louisiana with 652, California with 505, Illinois with 462, Massachusetts with 433 and Washington with 431 were the states with the largest number of deaths outside the New York area.
The US continued to be the country with the higest number of COVID-19 infections on Wednesday with 432,132 confirmed cases after adding almost 32,000 new cases in the last 24 hours.
This is almost three times that of Spain and Italy, who have the second and third largest number of COVID-19 infections in the world, with 148,220 and 139,422 respectively.
Once again the New York area had the majority of confirmed cases with more than 200,000, while Michigan went past 20,000, California had 18,000, Louisiana 17,000 and Massachusetts and Pennsylvania 16,000.
Of all those infected, only 22,900 have been released to date, while around 9,300 are in intensive care units.
More than 2.2 million coronavirus tests have already been carried out throughout the country, which has a population of 328 million, at a rate of more than 100,000 a day.
Almost 90 per cent of the inhabitants live in areas that have been placed under lockdown.
US President Donald Trump''s administration has said that its shutdown guidelines will remain in place until April 30.
Johnson was admitted to St Thomas'' Hospital on Sunday, on the advice of his doctor, after continuing to have a cough and high temperature 10 days after testing positive for the virus, the BBC reported.
The Prime Minister was given oxygen before being taken to intensive care on Monday.
The spokesman said that Johnson was in "good spirits" on Wednesday as he continued to receive standard oxygen treatment.
He was breathing without any assistance, such as mechanical ventilation or non-invasive respiratory support.
The spokesman added that he was not working but could contact those he needed to.
The Queen and other senior royals sent messages to Johnson''s family and his pregnant fiancee, Carrie Symonds, saying they were thinking of them, and wished the Prime Minister a full and speedy recovery.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is deputising for Johnson, said on Tuesday he was "confident" the PM would recover from this illness, describing him as a "fighter", the BBC reported.
The news of Johnson''s improvement comes as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the UK increased to 61,474 as of Wednesday, with death toll now standing at 7,097.
On Wednesday, the Downing Street said a review of lockdown rules would go ahead next week, but the public must "stick with" the measures at what was a "critical time".
A ban on public gatherings of more than two people and the closure of shops selling non-essential goods were among the series of restrictions announced by Johnson on March 23 to tackle the spread of coronavirus.
Downing Street said a relaxation of the rules would be considered "on or around" the three-week mark on April 13.
According to the government''s coronavirus legislation, the health secretary must review the need for restrictions at least once every 21 days, with the first review to be carried out by April 16.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan told the BBC: "I think we''re nowhere near lifting the lockdown.
"We think the peak - which is the worst part of the virus - is still probably a week and a half away."
Respiratory specialist Mukherjee, 24, was back home after her trip to India, where she’d been carrying out charity work and was due to start back at Boston Pilgrim Hospital, Lincolnshire next week.
“I could not be prouder to be both Miss England and to serve something of great national pride like the NHS,” Bhasha tells the BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat.
She was in India as part of a humanitarian trip across Asia and was due to travel to countries including Pakistan.
After seeing the unfolding crisis in the UK, she wanted to “share the load”.
“I felt unfair getting dressed up in a place of safety while my colleagues were laying their lives on the frontline,” she said.
The NHS is adapting to rising coronavirus cases in the UK through staff redeployment and asking recently retired doctors and nurses to come back to work.
Currently, the beauty queen was sorting out the logistical issues of her return to work, including things like what shifts she would be be doing and where she would be living.
She’s currently self-isolating in her home city of Derby, which is around 80 miles from the hospital.
Mukherjee also knows the health risks of returning to the wards but is not worried about contracting the disease in the hospital.
“I could have caught it anytime or anywhere. I could have picked it up at any airport or while I was in India” she told the BBC.
“My main concern is the pressure our NHS is under.”
Bhasha was crowned Miss England in August 2019, shortly after gaining two medical degrees from the University of Nottingham.
She’d spent time training as a junior doctor on a respiratory ward, at the same time as modelling and taking part in pageants.
Bernard Arnault, Chairman and CEO of luxury magnate LVMH (LVMHF), moved up the list as the third-wealthiest person with $76 billion fortune. At $67.5 billion, Warren Buffett''s fortune landed at fourth place.
"A notable newcomer to the list is Bezos'' ex-wife, MacKenzie Bezos, who lands at No 22 on the list with a total net worth of $36 billion," said Forbes.
Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, some of the world''s wealthiest are serving as agents of change and taking action to reinvent their businesses to aid in the global response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Billionaires like Gates, Zoom CEO Eric Yuan, Arnault, Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb and others are donating towards the global health crisis.
Oracle Founder and CTO Larry Ellison is at fifth position with a net worth of $59 billion.
The total combined net worth of this year''s billionaires is $8 trillion, down from $8.7 trillion in 2020.
While 267 people dropped off this year''s list, a record 1,062 individuals have seen a drop in their fortunes, owing to COVID-19 pandemic and its subsequent economic fallouts.
There are 241 women on the 2020 list, including seven who share their fortunes with their husband, child or sibling.
US President Donald Trump''s net worth plunged $1 billion in less than a month, the report said.
Tomar appreciated the efforts of states for their proactive role in undertaking agriculture activities during the lockdown.
During the meeting, states have been asked to sensitize field agencies about exemptions given to farming related activities and allow hassle free movement of farm produce, fertilizers and farm machinery.
It has also been decided that Kharif National Conference will be held on 16 April through Video Conferencing. The minister assured the states that all the necessary help and support would be provided to the states during Covid-19 pandemic.
He urged the states to popularize Aarogya Setu App among the farmers and other citizens.
Issues related to farming operations, harvesting, agriculture marketing, mandi operations, procurement at MSP, logistics issues, movement of agriculture and horticulture produce were discussed with the states in the meeting. The states were requested to sensitize their field agencies for facilitating smooth farming operations including sowing, harvesting and marketing.
It was also requested to ensure expeditious permission for movement of farm labours, goods, machines and materials related to farming.
It was informed that the Ministry has released e-NAM modules to enable the e-trading and bidding from source point by farmers, FPOs and Cooperatives.
States have been asked to issue necessary instructions to give effect to the same which would facilitate the farmers in selling their produce, ensuring availability of produce at consumption centers and decongesting mandis.
The new policy limits users to forwarding certain messages to one chat at a time, aiming to limit the rapid propagation of content which is provocative but likely to be false.
The Facebook-owned messaging platform said that it took the action to enable people to concentrate on personal and private communications during the health crisis.
Last year, WhatsApp set limits on forwarded messages to five chats at a time, to constrain virality, responding to events in India where the rapid proliferation of unverified information led to mob violence.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi too remembered the bravery of CRPF personnel in Gujarat’s Sardar Patel Post in 1965.
In a tweet, PM Modi said the sacrifices of the brave martyrs will never be forgotten.
He added that the courage of CRPF is widely known.
The findings, detailed in the journal Nature Communications, could aid in the development of safer and more reliable batteries for electric vehicles and consumer electronics as predicting the state of health and the remaining useful lifespan of lithium-ion batteries is one of the big problems limiting widespread adoption of electric vehicles.
It is also a familiar annoyance to mobile phone users.
“Safety and reliability are the most important design criteria as we develop batteries that can pack a lot of energy in a small space,” said Alpha Lee from University of Cambridge who co-led the research.
The researchers designed a new way to monitor batteries by sending electrical pulses into them and measuring the response.
The measurements were then processed by a machine learning algorithm to predict the battery’s health and useful lifespan.
The researchers performed over 20,000 experimental measurements to train the model.
Their method is non-invasive and is a simple add-on to any existing battery system.
The researchers also showed that the machine learning model can be interpreted to give hints about the physical mechanism of degradation.
The model can inform which electrical signals are most correlated with ageing, which in turn allows them to design specific experiments to probe why and how batteries degrade.
“By improving the software that monitors charging and discharging, and using data-driven software to control the charging process, I believe we can power a big improvement in battery performance,” Lee said.
Odisha is the first state to extend the lockdown ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s video conference with state leaders.
In a statement after the meeting, Patnaik said Odisha has also urged the Centre to stop train and flight services to the state till April 30.
Schools and educational institutions would remain closed till June 17, he said.
As per the Union Health Ministry, the latest figures in the country as on April 9 at 8 AM are:
Active cases: 5,095
Cured/ Discharged: 472
Abdul Majed was arrested on Tuesday by the Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit of Bangladesh from Mirpur area in Dhaka.
Abdul Majed is among the 12 former army personnel who were awarded death sentence in 1998. It was later confirmed by the High Court in 2009.
Five of the convicted army personnel were hanged in 2010 while one died. Six of the convicted army personnel have been absconding. Abdul Majed is one of them.
Earlier, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal had said on Wednesday that the ‘self confessed killer’ of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was also involved in the subsequent murder of four top leaders of the country in Dhaka central Jail on 3 November 1975, reports the official news agency BSS.
He said that Majed claimed to live in hiding in Kolkata for the last 23 years after fleeing the country.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was killed along with most of his family members on 15 August 1975 by some army personnel at his residence in Dhaka.
The trial for the killing started 22 years later in 1997 after the incident.
After hitting a high of 30,847.10, the 30-share BSE barometer was trading 925.67 points or 3.10 per cent higher at 30,819.63.
Similarly, the NSE Nifty was quoting 270.05 points, or 3.09 per cent, up at 9,018.80.
HDFC was the top gainer in the Sensex pack, surging up to 5 per cent, followed by Maruti, Bharti Airtel, Bajaj Finance, Tata Steel, Hero MotoCorp and ICICI Bank.
On the other hand, HUL was the sole laggard.
In the previous session, the BSE barometer closed 173.25 points or 0.58 per cent lower at 29,893.96, and the Nifty settled 43.45 points, or 0.49 per cent, down at 8,748.75.
Foreign institutional investors (FIIs) were net buyers in the capital market, as they bought equity shares worth Rs 1,943.41 crore on Wednesday, according to provisional exchange data.
According to experts, hopes of another financial stimulus hope before the end of the lockdown period buoyed investor sentiment in early session.
Further, slowing pace of fresh COVID-19 cases has also lent some momentum to global markets, they said.
Bourses in Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Seoul were trading on a positive note, while those in Tokyo were in the red.
Benchmark exchanges on Wall Street ended significantly higher in overnight trade.
Brent crude futures, the global oil benchmark, rose 1.55 per cent to USD 33.34 per barrel.
The death toll due to the novel coronavirus in India rose to 166 and the number of cases to 5,734, according to the Union Health Ministry.
Global tally of the infections has crossed 14.8 lakh, with over 88,000 deaths.
"Now is not the time to relax measures," WHO regional director for Europe, Hans Kluge, told a news conference.
"It is the time to once again double and triple our collective efforts to drive towards suppression with the whole support of society." Kluge called on "all countries" to strengthen their efforts in three main areas.
Firstly, protecting health service workers, including training and making sure they have the necessary support structures.
Second, authorities needed to focus on stopping and slowing the spread of COVID-19 by using public health measures aimed at separating "healthy people from suspected and probable cases".
Third, governments and authorities had to continuously communicate with communities to make people conform to "current and possible future measures".
Several European countries have announced plans to start easing the restrictive measures introduced to curb the spread of the disease. On Monday, Austria announced plans to start opening some businesses and public parks from April 14. Denmark and Norway, who have both adopted strategies of "semi-confinement", have also signalled loosening some measures later in April.
WHO Europe noted that while cases in Spain and Italy -- Europe's worst hit countries -- were still increasing, the rate of increase seemed to have slowed following the introduction of restrictive measures and lockdowns.
It also noted progress in Austria, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland.
But Kluge expressed alarm at the "dramatic increase in virus spread" in Turkey over the last week, and said a fresh surge had been observed in Sweden.
Cases in Israel, Ukraine, Belgium and Norway were also still on the rise.
WHO Europe reported that a total of 6,87,236 confirmed cases had been reported across the continent, with 52,824 deaths.
I response to US President Donald Trump's tweet earlier on India's decision to export HCQ to contain COVID-19, PM Modi said:
"Fully agree with you President @realDonaldTrump. Times like these bring friends closer. The India-US partnership is stronger than ever. India shall do everything possible to help humanity's fight against COVID-19. We shall win this together."
Trump had earlier thanked India and PM Modi on the export of Hydroxychloroquine and said: "Extraordinary times require even closer cooperation between friends. Thank you India and the Indian people for the decision on HCQ. Will not be forgotten! Thank you Prime Minister @NarendraModi for your strong leadership in helping not just India, but humanity, in this fight!"
Biden won the democratic nomination after US Senator Bernie Sanders has dropped out of the Presidential race on Wednesday.
Presidential elections are due in November this year where Biden will now take on US President Donald Trump.
Biden took to Twitter and said that Democrats will not only defeat Donald Trump but will also address the climate crisis.
He said, if elected, he will make college education affordable and health care available to all.
The top court said the private hospitals including laboratories have an important role to play in containing the scale of the pandemic by extending philanthropic services in the hour of national crisis.
A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and S Ravindra Bhat, which heard the matter via video conferencing, said that tests relating to COVID-19 or novel coronavirus must be carried out in the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories accredited Labs or any agencies approved by WHO or ICMR.
The bench said, it is issuing the interim directions to the respondents that the tests relating to COVID-19 whether in approved government laboratories or approved private laboratories shall be free of cost.
The bench also said, the respondents- Centre and other authorities- shall issue necessary direction in this regard immediately.
The top court said that even before the COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by WHO on March 11, it had spread in several countries and as of now, more than 200 countries are suffering from this pandemic.
The top court issued directions on a PIL filed by an advocate seeking a direction to the Centre and authorities to provide free of cost testing facility for COVID-19 to all citizens in the country.
The bench in its order said no person be deprived to undergo the COVID-19 test due to non-payment of capped amount of Rs. 4,500.
It noted the Centre's submission that government laboratories are conducting the COVID-19 tests free of cost.
The unilateral ceasefire follows an escalation in fighting between the warring parties despite a call by the United Nations for an immediate cessation to protect civilians in the Arab world's poorest nation from the pandemic.
The announcement, due to take effect from 0900 GMT Thursday, marks the first breakthrough since the warring parties agreed to a UN-brokered ceasefire in the port city of Hodeida during talks in Sweden in late 2018.
"The coalition is determined... to support efforts towards combatting the spread of COVID-19 pandemic," Turki al-Maliki, the military alliance's spokesman, said on Wednesday.
"The coalition announces a comprehensive ceasefire in Yemen for a period of two weeks, starting on Thursday."
The two-week truce, which could be extended, was aimed at creating "appropriate conditions" for a UN-sponsored meeting between the warring parties to enable a "permanent ceasefire" in Yemen, Maliki added.
There was no immediate reaction from the Iran-aligned rebels.
But hours before the announcement, the rebels released a comprehensive document that called for a withdrawal of foreign troops and the end of the coalition's blockade on Yemen's land, sea and air ports.
The coalition, which launched its military intervention to support Yemen's internationally recognised government in 2015, said it was fully committed to a two-week ceasefire.
But when asked whether it will respond if the rebels persist with attacks during the truce, a Saudi official said it reserved the right to "defend our people".
UN special envoy Martin Griffiths welcomed the truce, calling on the warring parties to "cease immediately all hostilities with the utmost urgency".
The ceasefire comes as Saudi Arabia, reeling from plunging oil prices, seeks to extricate itself from the costly five-year conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people and triggered what the UN calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis.
Saudi deputy defence minister Prince Khalid bin Salman called on the rebels to "show good will" by seriously engaging in dialogue.
"The two week ceasefire will hopefully create a more effective climate to deescalate tensions, work with (Griffiths) towards a sustainable political settlement," Prince Khalid said on Twitter.
The United Nations has repeatedly called for an immediate cessation of hostilities in Yemen to help avert potentially disastrous consequences of the coronavirus outbreak.
Yemen's broken healthcare system has so far recorded no cases of the COVID-19 illness, but aid groups have warned that when it does hit, the impact will be catastrophic.
"The ceasefire seems to be more of a courtesy than a policy -- it comes in response to UN calls to deescalate during the COVID-19 crisis," Fatima Abo Alasrar, a scholar at the Middle East Institute, told AFP.
Saudi Arabia, the Yemeni government and the Huthi rebels had all welcomed an appeal from UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres for an "immediate global ceasefire" to help avert disaster for vulnerable people in conflict zones.
"It is most important to watch if the Huthis will stop their military operations," Alasrar said.
"That will be the real litmus test of a successful ceasefire as the Huthis have currently opened multiple battlefronts they cannot afford to close."
Fighting recently escalated again between the Huthis and Riyadh-backed Yemeni troops around the strategic northern districts of Al-Jouf and Marib, ending a months-long lull.
And Saudi air defences intercepted Yemeni rebel missiles over Riyadh and the border city of Jizan late last month, leaving two civilians wounded in the curfew-locked capital, state media reported.
It was the first major assault on Saudi Arabia since the Huthi rebels offered last September to halt attacks on the kingdom after devastating assaults on Saudi oil installations.
Last week, the coalition carried out multiple air strikes on Yemen's rebel-held capital Sanaa in retaliation for the missile strikes.
"COVID-19 has completely upended the global economy and with it international trade," WTO chief Roberto Azevedo told reporters in a virtual briefing from Geneva.
The global trade body was projecting that "trade in 2020 will fall steeply in every region of the world, and basically across all sectors of the economy," he said.
The WTO acknowledged that there was huge uncertainty around how the economic crisis around the pandemic, which has infected more than 1.4 million people globally and killed nearly 83,000, would unfold.
Stressing that the situation was first and foremost a health crisis, Azevedo warned that "the unavoidable declines in trade and output will have painful consequences for households and businesses, on top of the human suffering caused by the disease itself."
WTO presented two scenarios that it deemed "plausible", depending on how quickly the pandemic was conquered and the measures governments put in place to dampen the blow.
"In an optimistic scenario, our economists see the volume of global merchandise trade falling by 13 percent this year compared to 2019," Azevedo said.
That outlook points to a sharp drop in trade followed by a recovery starting in the second half of 2020.
"If the pandemic is brought under control relatively soon, and the right policies are in place, trade and output could rebound nearly to their pre-pandemic trajectory as early as 2021, regardless of how steep the initial fall is," Azevedo said. But he warned that "if the pandemic is not brought under control and governments fail to implement and coordinate effective policy responses, the decline could be 32 percent, or even more."
North America and Asia would be hardest-hit and could see their exports plunge by 40 and 36 percent respectively, while Europe and South America could see declines of more than 30 percent, the WTO said. "These numbers are ugly," Azevedo acknowledged. "There is no way around that."
The downturn "may well be the deepest economic recession or downturn of our lifetimes", he said, calling on governments to "make the most of all potential drivers of sustainable growth to reverse this situation."
In its main annual forecast, the 164-member WTO pointed out that trade had already been slowing in 2019, before the emergence of the novel coronavirus.
Trade tensions, uncertainty and slowing economic growth weighed on global merchandise trade, which registered a slight decline of 0.1 percent in 2019 after rising 2.9 percent a year earlier.
The dollar value of world merchandise exports fell by three percent to $18.89 trillion, the WTO said.
World commercial services trade fared better last year, with exports in dollar terms rising by two percent to $6.03 trillion, but the expansion was far slower than in 2018, when services trade increased by nine percent, said the WTO.
However, the situation has taken a dramatic turn since COVID-19 first emerged in China late last year. The WTO said that while the global shock might invite comparisons to the financial crisis of 2008-2009, the situation now was worse.
Governments around the world have taken radical measures to try to halt the spread of the deadly virus, including closing schools and public spaces and asking more than half of humanity to remain at home.
"Restrictions on movement and social distancing to slow the spread of the disease mean that labour supply, transport and travel are today directly affected in ways they were not during the financial crisis," it said.
"Whole sectors of national economies have been shut down, including hotels, restaurants, non-essential retail trade, tourism and significant shares of manufacturing."
Developments remained very uncertain, but WTO said countries could ensure a faster and stronger rebound through international cooperation.
"A turn towards protectionism would introduce new shocks on top of those we are currently enduring," Azevedo said.
"Keeping markets open to international trade and investment would help economies recover more quickly," he said, insisting that "we will see a much faster recovery than if each country goes it alone."
He said that all guidelines should be followed till the end of the lockdown period to prevent transmission of COVID-19.
Indian wrestler Sushil Kumar appealed to the people to follow all government guidelines in the fight against COVID-19.
India's first World Champion in Athletics IAAF World Athletics Final, Anju Bobby George urged everyone to obey government guidelines during the lockdown.
She also urged people to follow social distancing norms and take all precautions in the fight against COVID-19.
India said on Tuesday it will allow some exports of hydroxychloroquine after Trump urged New Delhi to release supplies of the drug seen as a possible treatment for COVID-19.
“Extraordinary times require even closer cooperation between friends. Thank you India and the Indian people for the decision on HCQ. Will not be forgotten! Thank you Prime Minister @NarendraModi for your strong leadership in helping not just India, but humanity, in this fight!” Trump wrote on Twitter.
Talking to reporters after a high-level meeting on Wednesday, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said nobody will be allowed to enter or exit from these areas.
He said the city government will ensure delivery of essential items in the sealed areas. Sisodia added that some positive cases have also been reported in Sadar area in the city and the area has been sealed.
Delhi government has also made it compulsory for people to wear face masks when stepping outdoors to combat the coronavirus spread. In a tweet, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said, wearing of facial masks can reduce the spread of corona virus substantially. He said, cloth mask will also be eligible.
He also said Delhi government departments have been asked to stop all expenditures except salary.
He said, there is need to cut expenses drastically considering current revenue status.
The iconic batsman also took to Twitter to urge fellow countrymen not to ostracize any fellow citizen who might have contracted the dreaded virus.
Earlier on Wednesday, the BCCI President Sourav Ganguly pledged to donate rice worth 50 lakh rupees for the underprivileged.
Among other prominent cricketers, the Pathan brothers Irfan and Yusuf donated 4000 face masks to Baroda police and health department while Mahendra Singh Dhoni made a contribution of one lakh rupees.
Three new domestic cases were reported, including two in Shandong Province and one in Guangdong Province, the National Health Commission (NHC) said. Also, 137 new asymptomatic COVID-19 cases were reported and 1,095 asymptomatic cases were still under medical observation. Two deaths were reported yesterday, with one in Shanghai and the other in Hubei Province, taking the overall death toll in the country to 3,333.
Earlier on Monday, the NHC reported no deaths for the first time after it began publishing COVID-19 daily reports since January this year. The overall confirmed cases on the mainland had reached 81,802 yesterday, including 1,190 patients still being treated, 77,279 patients discharged after recovery and 3,333 people died of the disease.
It has also been decided to release all pending GST and Custom refunds which will provide benefit to around one lakh business entities, including MSME. The total refund granted will be approximately eighteen thousand crore rupees.
The decision has been taken in view of the COVID-19 situation and with a view to provide immediate relief to the business entities and individuals.
He noted that in these changing circumstances, the country should simultaneously try to bring about a change in its work culture and working style.
The Prime Minister said, the country is facing serious economic challenges as a result of COVID-19, and the government is committed to overcome it.
Saying that the entire world is currently facing the grave challenge of COVID-19, PM Modi added that the present situation is an epoch changing event in mankind's history and India must evolve to counter its impact.
He praised the efforts of state governments working together with the Centre in this fight against the pandemic. PM Modi said that the country has witnessed constructive and positive politics through the coming together of all sections of polity to present a united front in this battle.
The Prime Minister also praised the sense of belonging, discipline, dedication and commitment with which each and every citizen is contributing in this endeavour, be it in following social distancing, Janta Curfew or the Lockdown.
PM Modi interacts with leaders of various political parties; says COVID-19 outbreak is a social emergency
PM Modi emphasized the impact of the emerging situation, as witnessed in the resource constraints. He said, India has been among the few nations to control the pace of spread of the virus till now. He also cautioned that the situation keeps changing continuously and one needs to maintain vigil at all times.
Leaders of different political parties provided feedback, suggested policy measures and discussed the way forward. The leaders appreciated the Prime Minister for timely measures taken by him.
They said the entire country is standing united behind him during the crisis. Boosting the health and morale of the healthcare workers, ramping up testing facilities, the need to assist smaller states and UTs and tackling the challenges of hunger and malnutrition were discussed.
They also spoke about economic and other policy measures to boost the country’s capability in this battle against the pandemic. Suggestions were also given by the leaders on extending the Lockdown and on a phased exit after Lockdown ends.
UK foreign secretary Dominic Raab has taken temporary charge after PM Johnson was moved to ICU. Mr Raab said the team spirit within the government would be guiding force to defeat the pandemic. He said, through the team spirit the government would implemented Prime Minister's all plans as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed hoped that his British counterpart Boris Johnson, admitted to a hospital for treatment of coronavirus, finds himself in perfect health soon. In a tweet, PM Modi said he hopes to see Mr Johnson out of hospital.
The Prime Minister discussed the future course of action with them in light of many states demanding an extension of lockdown after 14th of this month as a precautionary step in battle against COVID-19.
Economic impact of the lockdown and measures to deal with it was discussed. Utilization of money released to states and concerns pertaining to daily wage workers and migrant workers were also discussed in detail. Many leaders have asked the Government to extend the lockdown further. Some leaders also urged for making suitable provisions for ensuring free or cheaper testing facilities for the Covid-19 patients.
Opposition leaders also demanded for a greater financial stimulus to the states by the Centre. Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut, DMK leader T R Ballu, Sharad Pawar from NCP, Rajeev Ranjan Singh of JD (U), Lok Janshakti Party’s Chirag Paswan, Prof Ram Gopal Yadav of Samajwadi Party, BSP's Satish Chandra Mishra were among those who participated in the interaction with the Prime Minister.
Speaking at his daily press briefing yesterday, UN Chief's spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said that their priorities are to ensure the COVID-19-free status of incoming uniformed personnel, and mitigate the risk that UN peacekeepers could be a contagion vector while simultaneously maintaining their operational capabilities.
Dujarric said to prevent and contain the risk of transmission of the deadly virus, rotation and deployments of individual officers and police and military units has been suspended until June 30 and the decision has been transmitted to all Troop and Police Contributing Countries, as well as to all relevant peace operations.
He added that a few exceptions may be considered to continue to deliver on the mandate, but only in extenuating circumstances. India is among the largest troop contributing nations to the UN peacekeeping operations.
However, the apex health research body said, its guidelines should be followed and the sample collection should be done using recommended Personal Protective Equipment, PPE.
In an advisory, the ICMR said, it has no objection on adoption of establishing convenient sample collection sites, drive through centres for sample collection etc. by the respective State Governments. These sites should be disinfected regularly as per recommended procedures and all biosafety and biosecurity precautions should be implemented, the advisory added.
Through this scheme, five kilograms of foodgrains per person per month for next three months have to be distributed free to all National Food Security Act beneficiaries.
Many states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Telangana, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Haryana, Kerala and Mizoram have already started lifting foodgrains from FCI under this scheme. The Consumers Affairs Ministry Tuesday said, in the next few days other states will also start lifting the foodgrains for distribution.
The Ministry said, FCI is working tirelessly and has ensured that enough stocks are made available in every part of the country during countrywide lockdown. During the last 14 days, while the lockdown is in force to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, FCI moved an average of one lakh 44 thousand tonnes of foodgrains per day. A total of 658 rakes carrying over 18 Lakh tonnes foodgrains have been transported across the country.
President Trump said, his administration is going to look into the US funding to the WHO. Meanwhile, Senator Jim Risch, Chairman of Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called for an independent investigation into the WHO handling of the COVID-19 response. Mr Risch alleged that the WHO has failed not only the American people, it has failed the world with its flagrant mishandling of the response to COVID-19.
He said that WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus' apparent unwillingness to hold the Chinese Communist Party to even the minimum standard of global health and transparency hindered the world's ability to blunt the spread of this pandemic. He alleged that the organization has become a political puppet of the Chinese Government.
A bipartisan group of nearly two dozen lawmakers has announced to introduce a resolution to defund the WHO until its Director General Tedros Ghebreyesus resigns and an international commission investigates the organization's role in covering up the Chinese Communist Party's failed COVID-19 response.
Briefing media in New Delhi on Tuesday, Joint Secretary in Home Ministry Punya Salila Shrivastava said, the Home Ministry did a detailed review of the status of essential commodities and lockdown measures. The present status of essential goods and services is by and large satisfactory.
Joint Secretary in Health Ministry Lav Agarwal informed that Government has been adopting a strategy for cluster containment and for outbreaks that are amenable to management. He said, this strategy is producing positive results, especially in Agra and Gautam Buddh Nagar in Uttar Pradesh, Pathanamthitta in Kerala, Bhilwara in Rajasthan and East Delhi.
He said, Indian Railways has prepared 40 thousand isolation beds in 2,500 coaches. Railways is making 375 isolation beds daily and this is going on across 133 locations across the country. Quoting a recent ICMR study, Agarwal said, if one COVID-19 patient does not follow lockdown orders or practice social distancing, then the patient can infect 406 people in 30 days.
The total number of COVID-19 cases in country has risen to 4,789 with 508 more positive cases reported on Tuesday. In all, 124 deaths have been reported so far.
But not a rented dog, the Civil Guard police force warned on Wednesday as it sanctioned a man who had repeatedly tried to rent his dogs out via Facebook so that people could walk them.
“The man was advertising activities which implied people leaving their homes to rent dogs, or walk rented dogs,” said a police spokeswoman in the northeastern Galicia region. “That would be infringing the decree that only permits going outdoors for work, groceries, walking your dog or pharmacy visits.”
The man faces a possible fine of between 500 and 5,000 euros, but has not yet been detained.
Life in Spain ground to a halt after a state of emergency declared on March 14 imposed strict restrictions on movement to slow the spread of coronavirus.
As of late Wednesday, authorities had arrested 484 people in total since the start of quarantine, including 55 over the previous 24 hours for failing to comply with security measures, police said.
Laughing in the face of the global pandemic, Chef Hoang Tung and his team now spend their days moulding dozens of green-tea stained burger buns complete with little “crowns” made of dough to resemble microscopic images of the virus.
“We have this joke that if you are scared of something, you should eat it,” said Tung, at the Pizza Home takeaway shop in downtown Hanoi.
“That’s why the coronavirus isn’t scary anymore after you eat a burger in the shape of the virus itself. That way of thinking spreads joy to others during this pandemic,” said Tung.
The shop has sold around 50 burgers a day, despite the growing numbers of businesses in Vietnam which have been forced to close because of the virus.
In mid-February, Vietnam said all known 16 COVID-19 cases at the time had recovered, but that changed after an influx of overseas visitors and returning Vietnamese citizens brought an uptick in cases.
There are now 148 recorded cases of the virus in Vietnam, but no reported deaths, according to the health ministry.
The Bolshoi, which closed on March 17 until April 10, joins a string of other Russian theaters, opera houses and museums that have turned to online streaming to satisfy Russians’ cultural needs during the coronavirus lockdown.
Russia has so far recorded 1,036 cases of the virus and five related deaths, and has stepped up measures to curb its spread. This weekend Moscow will shutter all cafes, restaurants and shops apart from those selling food and medicine.
The Bolshoi’s ballet dancers are having to get used to training and keeping in shape at home.
“Of course it’s a very difficult time for us,” Denis Rodkin, a principal dancer, told Reuters on Friday. “We really depend on our profession... I hope that this will not last long and everything will be up and running again soon.”
In the meantime, Rodkin said, the performances streamed online might help keep people’s spirits up while they are confined to their homes.
“Art, and the Bolshoi Theater’s broadcasts in particular, support people in these difficult conditions,” he said. “They will be inspired, recharged with art, and all this will end.”
Ballet soloist Ksenia Zhiganshina also put a brave face on the enforced closure of the theater and its impact on the dancers.
The painting “Lentetuin”, or “Spring Garden,” which dates back to 1884 and depicts the garden of the rectory at Nuenen, had been on loan from the Groninger Museum.
“I feel incredibly angry and now I’m starting to feel sadder too,” Jan Rudolph de Lorm, director of the Singer Laren Museum, told Reuters in an interview.
He appealed to those who had taken the painting to treat it with care “so that sooner or later it can be shown to the public unharmed”.
Van Gogh, who struggled with mental illness throughout his life, was staying with his parents when he painted “Spring Garden”. His father worked as a minister in Nuenen.
De Lorm described the painting, which depicts a woman in a garden with red-flowered bushes and with a church in the background, as “an image of silence, of reflection and of tranquility, which undoubtedly offered him comfort and inspiration”.
“Through him, it gave us and our audience the same emotion,” de Lorm added.
Perez, 35, has adorned a pedestrian underpass in the town of Gland with a portrait of a masked cashier scanning a bottle of soap and plans to add other figures, such as construction workers or dustmen, to the mural.
“Today, I will especially pay tribute to cashiers. They are on the frontline with nurses and others,” he told Reuters.
He said his mural, adding colour to a “sad-looking wall”, was “for our everyday superheroes.”
Switzerland has recommended that its citizens stay indoors during the coronavirus which has killed more than 500 people and infected over 21,100 in the country, although it has stopped short of ordering a lockdown.
The lady that we are talking about today is a bit of both the categories. Vanshika Verma Khare had a tough but a fun-filled childhood where the family took her from one place to another due to the railway job her late father Shri Krishna Kumar Verma had. But, this somehow made her more adjusting to the situations life threw at her & so when a proposal for marriage came for her from Mr Abhinav Khare, an IPS officer, she accepted it even after knowing that it would require them to hop from city to city.
Her journey to giving the biggest e-commerce company, Amazon, its bestselling music books is also an interesting one for people to know. Starting right from pursuing engineering from MIT Pune in Information Technology & simultaneously preparing for CAT, to doing a corporate job at HCL for 6 months before getting married & deciding to complete her M Tech from Mysore & then finally turning out to be a writer is what Vanshika’s journey has been so far.
Vanshika in school too was a brilliant & bright student always taking part in various competitions like chess, table tennis, dancing, acting & many other activities & also excelling at it.
Apart from all the degrees she achieved & the dedication to keep doing something in life, Vanshika even became a part of the organising committee in ROBOCON in the year 2006 & 2007. Moreover, she also did a PG Diploma course in VASTU. Vanshika always had a keen interest in playing keyboard as she learnt the art from her late father, which remains her dearest hobby as admitted by her.
Life took a turn for her the day she met a group of people in Mysore while she was pregnant. People there tried to learn the keyboard using staff notations from books that were extremely difficult to understand especially for a complete newbie. And, Vanshika, an already learned keyboard player, decided to write & curate music books for people that would make people learn the instrument effortlessly.
What is even more interesting about her books "Playing Keyboard Made Easy Volume 1" & Volume 2 is that it uses scientific pitch notation system using keys like C,D,E,F,G,A,B & do not make use of any problematic staff notations. Even the Internet doesn't offer any song notations or chords in the scientific pitch notation system which makes Vanshika's books one of its kinds. Her books have an elaborate list of Hindi songs of both the old & the new & also have a bit of theory for readers to understand the technicalities of the instrument.
Her books gained so much popularity from people all around including many celebs like Nagoor Babu, Zayed Khan & so many others that soon both her music books became the "Bestseller" on Amazon. Plus, the third edition of her music book has already been published on amazon.com & soon the new book will also get available on amazon.in & Flipkart.
Neil is the only child. His Mother Sukhbinder Kaur is a registered nurse and his Dad Rajan Nayyar is in the IT sector. And what is mystifying is that no one in his family is into music or none of them are in the entertainment industry. Not only that, apart from music, Neil is also a Black Belt in Martial Arts (Kung Fu) and also loves to sing and take lessons regularly. His parents recognized his natural abilities when he began playing a drum set at only five years of age. Neil quickly moved on from the drums to mastering both the piano and the guitar. Soon after this accomplishment, the young musician was then inspired by a story about a gentleman who was deemed a “multi-instrumentalist” because of his ability to play twenty-three instruments. Inspiration leads to action and Neil was recently honored with the Assist Foundation’s World Record for his ability to play 107 musical instruments. Given his achievements in the music scene and his abilities, one would be forgiven for thinking that Neil is approaching his mid-life but would be surprised to learn that he has just entered his teenage life. While some musicians have mastered a few instruments Neil has broken all the records. At the age of twelve years, he broke the record that had been set by a twenty-seven years old instrumentalist to play 44 instruments. One year later, he almost tripled the number of instruments that he could play when the number moved to 107 settings, a record which most people think would be hard to beat by anybody who dares challenge the prowess of this young artist.
And how did the thirteen year old learn to play all these instruments?
This is a question that has lingered in most people’s mind. His parents say they realized he was good on the instrument and had the talent at the age of five. At this age, most of the kids can only sing along to the tunes they hear from the media; and they are way off the tune. But for this super kid, it was a walkover, being able to play instruments in a way that most people would not do. Upon discovering the talent, they registered him for summer camps where he learned how to play several instruments. He has music teachers spanning different parts of the world; China, India, Italy among other places where he works through skype. Neil is a symbol of uncompromising passion and persistence. He spends 8-9 hours a day practicing the instruments. Neil Nayyar is now one of the most searched names on Google and Yahoo, and his incredible journey has been covered by various TV channels, and multiple national news broadcasters have called Nayyar for interviews and congratulated him on this amazing feat.
He is also recognized by Medal of Mayor by Mayor STEVE Ly of Elk Grove, he was invited to perform National anthem for City of Elk Grove to honor the Sikh Police cop who was killed in Houston Texas (Candle Light event). Last week, he was invited to perform at United Nations Sacramento Chapter for Climate Change event. His name also came in magazine "SACTOWN" under Best of the city in oct 2019 edition.
Neil is awarded Medal of Mayor by City of Elk Grove Mayor Steve Ly for his accomplishments in Music. Neil has been awarded World Record by another Organization, World Records India.
Recently Neil performed National Anthem for Harlem Globetrotters at Golden 1 Sacramento. He is also going to audition (National Anthem) for Sacramento River Cats (Baseball Game). He also sent audition for Carnegie Hall's NYO2 Program.
"He will possibly be going to launch with AR REHMAN. "Neil is working on his Album with Mr. Prasanna, Carnatic fusion Guitarist who is Guitarist for A R Rehman many music projects including Bollywood Movies Last year, he was also invited to perform for fundraising event of Vice President Joe Biden, We hope he will find great success in future. Surely Niels wellwishers couldn't wait to witness him breaking more records and achieving great success.
If this not being noble, then what is? Thinking of the betterment of the society first is what Dr Ashwin Vijay is all about. This virtuous & noble personality is the one people must follow to understand what life can offer & where life can take them if they choose the right path.
Dr Ashwin Vijay is an orthopaedic surgeon by profession practicing in Saligramam, Chennai but is much more than just a doctor. He is a true example to the world that a person can wear many hats all at the same time & work not only for his profession but also for improving the health & life of others. This was also proved when Dr Vijay initiated a wonderful platform called the STRENGTH INDIA MOVEMENT which is a team created by him & working towards passing on useful information to the public addressing various health issues, the precautions people can take & how they can live a disease-free life following the steps as advised by him.
Dr Ashwin Vijay also practices at his orthopaedic center in Saligramam, Chennai called Ojas Ortho. This center is another example by Dr Vijay showing sensitivity & empathy towards his patients that also provides them with tons of advanced orthopaedic and sports medicine treatments. Not just this, Dr Vijay also treats many national & international athletes for their sports injuries & is also a part of the international society of arthroscopy, knee and orthopaedic sports medicine (ISAKOS).
What is even more amazing is that Dr Vijay after remaining so busy with treating his patients takes out time for all of the above things & many other things with the only aim to make this country a disease-free nation & give them the strength to fight diseases with a positive approach in life. The family of the STRENGTH INDIA MOVEMENT has already grown to more than 2 lakh & this is proof enough to show the authenticity & genuineness of Dr Vijay's character & intention.
With his motivational speeches & life lessons, Dr Ashwin Vijay wants to show people the right path to overcome all the obstacles they face in life & use his thought-provoking ideas to apply in everyday life. His life-changing videos are a ray of hope for getting fitter day by day, which also nourishes the mind & soul. And, that leads to a greater transformation in life. All thanks to doctors & life coaches like Dr Ashwin Vijay who teaches people to dedicate themselves to become their best versions.
Taking the current COVID-19 outbreak as an example, humanity is facing a threat without a face. Unarmed, the Coronavirus battle is being fought from all angles: isolation, lockdown, scientific studies, etc. The effects of this global crisis are not only felt through the devastating loss of thousands of loved ones, but its effects are also destroying worldwide financial markets – every nation trillions in debt.
Amidst the panic caused by this pandemic, another significant threat to human life is being ignored. Despite sounding like something from a science-fiction novel, the level of danger posed by asteroids is unprecedented, yet very real.
Warnings from organisations such as NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) and the European Space Agency (ESA) reveal that asteroids orbiting Earth, with the slightest shift in their trajectory, could cause cataclysmic collisions.
What is an asteroid?
A definition of an asteroid as provided by NASA (https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/asteroidwatch/asteroids-comets.php) is as follows:
“Asteroids are rocky fragments left over from the formation of the solar system about 4.6 billion years ago. Most asteroids orbit the sun in a belt between Mars and Jupiter. Scientists think there are probably millions of asteroids, ranging widely in size from hundreds of kilometers across to less than one kilometer (a little more than one-half mile) wide.”
What risk is there of a collision with Earth?
Taken from an article published by one of the UK’s top-circulating newspapers ‘The Express’ (https://www.express.co.uk/news/science/1148808/NASA-asteroid-danger-Asteroid-FT3-hit-earth-October-NASA-news):
“If the asteroid were to ever hit the Earth, at the point of atmospheric entry, the rock would slam into the planet at 20.37km per second or more than 45,500mph.
The force of impact would likely be equal to 2,700 megatons of TNT or 2,700,000,000 tonnes of TNT.
For comparison, the nuclear bomb dropped on Japan's Hiroshima in 1945, towards the end of World War Two, was in the range of 13 kilotons to 18 kilotons – 13,000 to 18,000 tonnes of TNT.”
There is vital work happening right now to protect the Earth from asteroid collisions. Akhil Turai is a leading scientist, working with cutting-edge technology to develop a global link defence system.
Since childhood, Akhil was fascinated by the great scientist, Stephen Hawking. Having always been interested in physics - excelling in astronomy - Akhil joined SRM University (Institute of Science and Technology) in India, to study Aerospace Engineering. Now, an Aerospace Engineer (Rocket Scientist).
Inspired by Bill Nye's ‘The Planetary Society’, Akhil planned to develop a mega asteroid defence system, spanning Earth, to protect our planet from the impact of asteroids. For this, he is working with NASA, JAXA (Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency), Roscosmos (State Corporation for Space Activities in Russia), ESA, and ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation).
Although many believe Akhil Turai works for NASA, he rejects such claims. Whilst he continues to work with many NASA scientists, Akhil maintains ongoing contracts with various space agencies.
Akhil is dedicated to his Mega Asteroid Defence System Global Link (a non-profit organisation), to save humanity. He plans to start an engineering and space company, to be operational by the year 2025.
PM Modi calls up Swedish Prime Minister, Kings of Bahrain and Oman to further cooperation against COVID-19
The two leaders discussed the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the steps being taken in their countries for controlling its health and economic impacts.
PM Modi and Mr Lofven also agreed on the potential for collaboration and data sharing between Indian and Swedish researchers and scientists, which would also contribute to the global efforts against COVID-19.
The two leaders promised to provide necessary facilitation and assistance for each other’s citizens, who may be stranded. They also agreed that officials would remain in touch to optimise availability of medical supplies for fighting COVID-19.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a telephonic conversation with Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa, King of Bahrain today. The two leaders discussed the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis and its consequences, including on logistics chains and financial markets. They agreed that their officials will remain in regular touch and ensure all possible support to each other for dealing with the challenges of COVID-19.
The King assured Prime Minister of his personal attention to the welfare of the large Indian community in Bahrain, during the present health crisis. Mr Modi expressed his appreciation for the care and affection that the Bahrain authorities have always extended to the Indian diaspora.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today spoke to Sultan of Oman Haitham bin Tarik. The two leaders discussed the health and economic challenges posed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and the steps being taken by their countries to respond to it. They agreed that both countries would extend all possible support to each other in dealing with the crisis.
The Sultan of Oman assured Mr Modi about the safety and wellbeing of the Indian community in Oman in the present situation. He also thanked the Prime Minister for the recent support provided by Government of India to Omani citizens in India.
Prime Minister reiterated his condolences for the demise of Sultan Qaboos. He conveyed his best wishes for Sultan Haitham’s reign and for the peace and prosperity of the people of Oman. He stressed that India regards Oman as a very important part of its extended neighbourhood.
Delivering a special statement this evening on the prevailing situation, he requested all citizens to stay at homes by following rules as everyone's destiny will be decided by the way they conduct to defeat the common enemy, COVID-19.
The Premier outlined the measures taken by the government to mitigate the pandemic outbreak and appreciated the sacrifice made by security forces and health workers who are on the COVID-19 frontline.
He stressed that in the face of a pandemic, their attentiveness, commitment and discipline will decide whether they will survive.
Rajapaksa also urged the country men to stay united in these times and not be divided along communal lines as the only enemy at the moment is Coronavirus.
Meanwhile, Srilanka recorded seven more positive cases today bringing the total number of active cases to 147. Six people have died out of total 185 cases reported and 42 have recovered so far.
The country is under curfew for over two weeks and is being strictly implemented by police and security forces.
In his televised address to the nation today, Mr. Oli said it has been made clear that we as a world were not ready to fight such kind of pandemic.
He said it is natural that a country like Nepal with limited resources will face more challenges.
Nepali PM said all efforts will therefore be focused to contain the outbreak. Screenings will be done of those suspected of infection and second round of tests will be carried out to ensure infection status.
KP Sharma Oli said that though only nine cases have been detected in Nepal so far but country is still at a high risk.
He added that the government has left no stone unturned in the fight against the pandemic and all necessary measures have been taken to contain the outbreak.
He also urged Nepali people to stay home and maintain physical distancing to remain safe from the greatest challenges of the present time.
Meanwhile, Nepal government has decided to suspend all international flights till April 30 as a precautionary measure against the spread of COVID-19.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the High-Level Coordination Committee for the Prevention and Control of COVID-19 held in Kathmandu today.
President said in a message that the kind and generous support is deeply appreciated in this hour of need.
The remarks came as India today gifted a 10 tonne consignment of essential life saving medicines to Sri Lanka, in view of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
The medicines, requested by Government of Sri Lanka was brought to Colombo by an Air India Special Charter flight.
A statement by Indian high commission in Colombo said despite its own domestic challenges and constraints, India has always believed in sharing its resources and expertise with its friends and partners.
Earlier, India has sent similar supply to Maldives to help fight the COVID crisis.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka recorded five more positive cases today bringing the total number of active cases to 145. Six people have died out of total 183 cases reported and 42 have recovered so far.
The country is under curfew for over two weeks and is being strictly implemented by police and security forces.