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COVID-19: Govt Opens 1.7 Lakh Crore War Chest For Poor, Needy

The Rs 1,70,000-crore scheme will help the poor, migrant workers and those who need help.



NEW DELHI: The Narendra Modi led NDA government today announced a mega relief package of one lakh 70 thousand crore rupees for the poor who need immediate help in the wake of COVID-19 like migrant workers and urban and rural poor.

Briefing media in New Delhi this afternoon, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said they have come up with Prime Minister Gareeb Kalyan scheme to help the migrant workers and poor people.

FM Sitharaman also announced insurance cover of 50 lakh rupees per person for three months for COVID-19 warriors who are exposing themselves to the virus. They include doctors, paramedics, healthcare workers, sanitation workers, ASHA workers dealing with coronavirus outbreak.

The Finance Minister elaborated that five kilos rice or wheat will be given for the next three months for free in addition to the 5 kilos already being given to 80 crore people. She said that additionally, one kilo of  preferred pulses will also be given per family for free.

Highlights of the Huge Relief Package:

  • The Rs 1,75,000-crore scheme, dubbed the “Prime Minister Gareeb Kalyan Scheme“, will “address the concerns of poor, migrant workers and those who need help”, Nirmala Sitharaman said. Besides food, the scheme has a cash component. Divided under eight heads, this covers all sections of society, including pensioners, women and the specially-abled.
  • “The poor and the needy will get 5 kg extra wheat or rice free for the next three months. This is over and above what they already receive under the National Food Security Act. They will also get 1 kg pulses free for next three months,” the minister said.
  • The government also announced a special Rs 50 lakh medical insurance cover to the frontline workers toiling to avert the crisis. “With a deep sense of gratitude, I announce that all medical staff, Aasha workers, paramedics, doctors and nurses, will get this insurance”.
  • For farmers, the government will release the first tranche of their yearly payment of Rs 6,000 under the direct cash transfer scheme. Across the country, three crore widows, pensioners and the specially-abled would receive a one-time ex-gratia payment of Rs 1,000.
  • Around 20 crore women who have Jan Dhan accounts, will receive an ex gratia of Rs 500 per month for the next three months. Nearly 8.3 crores Below Poverty Line families will also get free cooking gas cylinders for the next three months.
  • Those under the women self-help groups of Deen Dayal Upadhyay Yojana, who are eligible for collateral-free loans of up to Rs 10 lakh, can now get Rs 20 lakh.
  • For the organised sector, the minister announced a special update on provident funds and withdrawal limits. The centre would pay the provident fund share of both the employer and employee for the next three months. This, however, will be applicable to establishments that have up to 100 employees and 90 per cent of these employees earn less than Rs 15,000 per month.
  • The employees will be able to get a non-refundable advance to 75 per cent from the fund or three months’ wages — whichever is less — from their EPFO.
  • The government has also created a “District Minerals Fund”. The centre would “allow the state governments to use this central fund to help in testing and other measures to battle the pandemic,” which has already affected more than 600 people in the country and cost 13 lives.
  • The government’s bailout package comes as migrant labourers working in large metros across the country have started footing it to their homes, uncertain that they would get even one square meal a day. Many states, like Delhi, Kerala and Bengal, have already announced schemes and made arrangements to feed the homeless.
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COVID-19: Get Help With Govt’s Official Mobile App ‘Aarogya Setu’

It is available for both Android and iOS and here’s how it can be used to detect COVID-19.



NEW DELHI: More than one crore individuals have downloaded the ‘Aarogya Setu’ mobile App. The government had launched a mobile app to bring the people of the country together in a resolute fight against COVID-19.

The App, called ‘AarogyaSetu’ joins Digital India for the health and well-being of every Indian. The App will enable people to assess themselves the risk for their catching the Coronavirus infection.

It will calculate this based on their interaction with others, using cutting edge Bluetooth technology, algorithms and artificial intelligence.

What Is It?

Aarogya Setu, which translates from Sanskrit to ‘a bridge of health.’ tells users if they can catch Coronavirus and makes use of GPS and Bluetooth to determine if a person is near or have been in contact with a Coronavirus-infected person.

The app aims to tell people about the ‘best’ practices they can follow and the apt sources they can refer to so that people can cope well with the ongoing virus outbreak.

The app is available in 11 languages including English, Hindi, Punjabi, Gujarati, among others and needs permission to access a user’s location (which is required to be on always), Bluetooth, and data. The app claims to share the user data only with the Government of India and not third parties.

How to Use It?

The Aarogya Setu app is available for both Android and iOS users and can be downloaded via both the Google Play Store and the App Store.

  • Go to either Google Play Store or the App Store
  • Look for Aarogya Setu in the search bar
  • Hit the Install option to download it
  • Once the Aarogya Setu app is downloaded, open the app on either your Android or iOS device
  • Select the preferred language from 11 language options
  • You need to go past a couple of screens that give an idea about the app
  • Following this, provide the app with device location, Bluetooth, and data sharing permissions and click I Agree.
  • Don’t forget to turn on the Bluetooth of your smartphone
  • Enter your 10-digit mobile number and verify with an OTP received
  • Fill in your personal details such as gender, full name, age, profession, travel history, and then click on the Submit option

Once all this is done, you will know if you are at the risk of getting Coronavirus, help centres, a self-assessment test, and more Coronavirus related information.

Additionally, the app asks you to use the app from time-to-time to remain updated.

It may be recalled that the last week, MeitY introduced the Corona Kavach app solving a similar purpose. However, the app is in beta as of now and is available only for Android users.

The Aarogya Setu app has a cleaner and simpler UI as compared to Corona Kavach and is available for both Android and iOS users.

Another distinguishing feature between both apps is that Corona Kavach also lists down the number of active Coronavirus cases in the country.

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COVID-19: Bharat Biotech Developing Intranasal Vaccine Against Coronavirus

CoroFlu will build on the backbone of FluGen’s flu vaccine candidate known as M2SR.



NEW DELHI: A Hyderabad-based biotech company is working on developing a nasal vaccine for COVID-19. An international collaboration of virologists at the University of Wisconsin Madison and the vaccine companies FluGen along with Bharat Biotech has begun the development and testing of a vaccine against COVID-19 called CoroFlu.

CoroFlu will build on the backbone of FluGen’s flu vaccine candidate known as M2SR, which a self-limiting version of the influenza virus that induces an immune response against the flu.

The virologists will insert gene sequences from SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes the disease COVID-19, into M2SR so that the new vaccine will also induce immunity against the novel coronavirus.

Bharat Biotech will manufacture the vaccine, conduct clinical trials, and prepare to produce almost 300 million doses of vaccine for global distribution. Under the collaboration agreement, FluGen will transfer its existing manufacturing processes to Bharat Biotech to enable the company to scale up production and produce the vaccine for clinical trials,” Dr Raches Ella, Head of Business Development, Bharat Biotech said.

Refinement of the CoroFlu vaccine concept and testing in laboratory animal models at UWMadison is expected to take three to six months. Bharat Biotech in Hyderabad, India will then begin production scale-up for safety and efficacy testing in humans. The company expects CoroFlu to be in human clinical trials by late 2020.

Bharat Biotech has commercialized 16 vaccines, including a vaccine developed against the H1N1 flu that caused the 2009 pandemic.


Refinement of the CoroFlu vaccine concept and testing in laboratory animal models at UW–Madison is expected to take three to six months. Bharat Biotech in Hyderabad, India will then begin production scale-up for safety and efficacy testing in humans. CoroFlu could be in human clinical trials by the fall of 2020.

Four Phase I and Phase II clinical trials involving hundreds of subjects have shown the M2SR flu vaccine to be safe and well tolerated. This safety profile, M2SR’s ability to induce a strong immune response, and the ability of influenza viruses to carry sequences of other viruses make M2SR an attractive option for rapidly developing CoroFlu as a safe and effective SARS-CoV-2 vaccine.

“We are going to modify M2SR by adding part of the coding region for the coronavirus spike protein that the virus uses to latch onto cells and begin infection,” Gabriele Neumann, a senior virologist in Kawaoka’s lab and co-founder of FluGen, said.

“CoroFlu will also express the influenza virus hemagglutinin protein, which is the major influenza virus antigen, so we should get immune responses to both coronavirus and influenza.”

M2SR is a unique form of the flu virus. It lacks a gene called M2, which restricts the virus to undergo only a single round of replication in cells.

CoroFlu, like M2SR, will be delivered intranasally.

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COVID-19: Govt Grants More Relaxations For Agriculture And Allied Sectors

The govt has issued the 4th Addendum to its notification invoking the Disaster Management Act.



NEW DELHI: Center has granted a slew of exemptions and relaxations for Agriculture and Allied sectors in view of the 21-day lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak.

In order to ensure that the farmers do not suffer from any adverse fallout, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs has issued the 4th Addendum to its notification invoking the Disaster Management Act.

According to the latest Addendum, shops of Agricultural machinery, its spare parts, including supply chain and repairs and shops for truck repairs on highways, preferably at fuel pumps, can remain open. This will facilitate the transportation of farm produce.

The tea industry, including plantations, can also function with a maximum of fifty per cent workers.

The Home Ministry has emphasized that the head of the organization or establishment will ensure the practice of social distancing norms and proper hygiene. The District authorities have been directed to ensure strict enforcement of the orders.

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