1. Where did 5 million people go?
The Hindu has published a worrying report from the Associated Press, which claims that 5 million people had left from Wuhan in the two weeks before Chinese officials had sealed the borders of the city and put it under quarantine for the Coronavirus outbreak (nCoV).
The news agency analysed domestic travel patterns of people using location data from Baidu (the Chinese Google equivalent). Nearly 70% of these trips were within the Hubei province, while 14% left for neighbouring provinces like Henan, Hunan, Anhui and Jiangxi. These people, who could be carriers of the dreaded nCOV virus, which has killed 800 so far and spread to 37,000 people.
Wuhan’s mayor has estimated that millions of people had left the city in buses, trains and planes - going as far as Guangdong, across from Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai before Chinese authorities put the city under quarantine. The time window can be as big as two weeks.
Confirmed cases and infections have been reported in pockets in Chongqing, Shanghai and Beijing, lending validity to this report. Virologists claim that China needs to identify these people, without creating a stigma or discrimination against others who have ties to Wuhan but are not carriers.
One major worry in tracking travel patterns is identifying all initial ports of landing and tracking travellers down to wherever they may have gone from these points.
2. Cases of sexual harassment at workplace: SC rejects plea
A Supreme Court two-judge bench has rejected an appeal seeking protection for complainants and witnesses in cases of sexual harassment at the workplace from retaliation or victimisation by either the accused or their organisation. The petition had pointed out that the current law does not have any provision for safety of these two parties in such a case.
The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act of 2013 is the first law to deal with the matter. It, however, does not have any provision to protect victims and witnesses in such cases from retaliation by the accused or the company in itself.
Sunita Thawani had filed a petition to highlight this issue, which has been rejected by Justices R. Banumathi and A.S. Bopanna. In its order on Feb 6, the court has granted the petitioner liberty to work out a remedy in accordance with the law.
The petitioner had filed this plea earlier in the Delhi High Court. This had been dismissed by the court in July 2019, by saying that the petitioner was attempting to create a new offence under ‘retaliation’ within this act.
“Retaliation or victimisation are only the provocation for an act of assault. If an act of assault amounts to sexual harassment, it would anyway be punishable under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013. If it does not, it cannot be punishable under the Act, as it deals with only offences of a sexual nature,” the High Court had said.
3. J&K administration offers investors 'uninterrupted' Internet,wifi access.
Seeking investors to the union territory, the Jammu & Kashmir government has projected two positives for businesses and investments here - one is low crime rate and the second one is high quality air.
As per the J&K IT policy 2020, IT companies are being offered incentives to invest in the crime-free union territory as it contributes only 0.1% to total cognisable crimes under the penal code.
The J&K IT policy document 2020 is seeking IT companies to invest and set up their businesses in the state. To do so, they are highlighting these USPs and offering an array of facilities to the sector. These include incentives to operate businesses in three shifts against two. It’s also facilitating women working in the night by providing them transportation and security. 15% of "plug n play" area in IT parks will be reserved for women entrepreneurs.
The policy document shared with investors clearly mentions that there are two IT parks with an area of five lakh square feet being developed in Jammu and Srinagar. These IT parks will get uninterrupted and dedicated broadband and WiFi access.
The erstwhile state has been under a shutdown since August 5 last year, when Article 370 had been removed from the valley. Amit Shah had moved two bills in the Rajya Sabha to remove the special status provisions. The valley has recently received internet connectivity in forms of 2G access, after the Supreme Court took a decision in this matter.
Most of the political leadership here remains under detention.
4. NASA , ESA set to send solar orbiter probe to map Sun's poles
NASA and the European Space Agency are going to send a solar orbiter probe to the sun to snap the first pictures of Sun's North and south poles. This exercise is scheduled to begin on Sunday during a two-hour launch window. The launch will be at 11:30 PM EST that is 9:33 AM Monday, Indian time.
A two ton spacecraft will launch from Florida on a United launch Alliance Atlas V Rocket. The solar orbiter will click pictures of the south and north poles of the sun. The orbiter will climb up above the ecliptic until it has a bird's eye view of the poles.
The orbiter will journey out of the ecliptic plane, a belt that is aligned with the Sun's equator and the planets orbit through this equator only.
In this journey, the orbiter will answer some very important queries related to Sun like:
What drives the solar wind?
What are those particles that are constantly blowing from the sun?
What churns deep inside the sun that generates its magnetic field?
How does the Sun's magnetic field shape the heliosphere?
Though these questions are not new, still most of the fundamental things about our star are still unknown to us. Other than answers to these mysteries, scientists are also looking forward to understanding how the Sun shapes the weather and the conditions that can impact astronauts, satellites and technologies like GPS and radio in space.
Over the next 7 years, the orbiter will travel close to 26 million miles to the sun that is closing about two-thirds the distance from Earth to the star. A black coating of calcium phosphate will shield the orbiter from the scorching heat of the sun. This coating is similar to pigments of charcoal-like powder used in cave paintings tens of thousands of year ago.
5. Beware of a possible transmission of nCoV through eyes too
Ophthalmologists have warned that the deadly novel Coronavirus, which has claimed 800 lives in China can spread through the eyes too. Infected droplets and body fluids can easily contaminate the human conjunctival epithelium.
Even as the AAO(American Academy of Ophthalmology) has issued an alert for its members in January, the Indian Ophthalmological Society (AIOS) has also circulated an alert to its 22,000 members on February 3, advising them to cover their mouth, nose and eyes when treating a Coronavirus hit patient.
If one does not wear protective eyegear, a person can get infected from the nCoV strain of the virus.
This was discovered after a member of the national expert panel on pneimonia, Guangfa, got infected with nCoV wearing an N95 mask.
The respiratory viruses can induce ocular complications in infected patients leading to respiratory infections. The fluid in the eyes is secreted from the body and can carry the virus. The fluids and secretion from the eyes contain viral elements which are commonly transferred to objects and surfaces termed as fomites (the surfaces that are carriers of infection).
So, as a precaution, one should avoid touching the hands and face while treating an infected a patient and maintain hygiene of hands. These measures can reduce the risk of catching the deadly virus.
These discoveries have been brought to light after Li Wenliang, an opthamologist died on Feb 7 from a coronavirus infection The doctor was a whistleblower who had discovered the outbreak and warned many about the new virus, before he was silenced by Chinese authorities.
All The Best To All The UPSC 2020 Aspirants !