Keep up-to-date with all that is happening in welfare policy with this curated selection of news, published every fortnight. The current edition focusses on the Coronavirus pandemic in India, and the government’s efforts to stem its increase.
- The lockdown has been extended till 17 May 2020, and fresh guidelines have been issued by the Home Ministry for the period, which can be accessed here. Districts have been divided on the basis of risk into Red, Orange and Green zones. Restrictions will be eased accordingly.
- The government has brought in an Ordinance to amend the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 to make attacks on doctors and healthcare workers a cognisable and non-bailable offence.
- With no new cases, Goa is the first state to be reported Coronavirus-free. The Union government has declared five of the eight northeast states – Sikkim, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Tripura – Coronavirus -free.
- The Health Ministry has said that the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) has not given any clearance for the use of Plasma Therapy as a prescribed treatment for COVID-19. It is only one of the several therapies which is being explored currently. ICMR has launched a national-level study to study efficacy of plasma therapy in treatment of COVID-19.
- The Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has said that India will be able to produce RT-PCR and antibody test kits under ‘Make in India’ by May-end.
- The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has issued guidelines for home isolation and has said that very mild/pre-symptomatic patients having the requisite facility at his/her residence for self-isolation will have the option for home isolation.
- The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has launched Covid India Seva on Twitter to address questions on the COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative is aimed at enabling transparent e-governance delivery in real-time and answer citizen queries swiftly.
- The Finance Ministry has put on hold a hike in dearness allowance (DA) for central government employees and dearness relief (DR) for central government pensioners till July next year. The Delhi government too has taken a similar decision.
- The ministry has issued another circular with respect to employee contribution of one day salary in a month to the PM-CARES Fund.
- An Alternative Academic Calendar for upper primary classes (Classes VI to VIII) has been released by the Union government.
- The Education Ministry has launched ‘VidyaDaan 2.0’ initiative to curate content for the CBSE curriculum from individuals and organisations across the country.
- The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved USD 1.5 billion loan to India to support immediate priorities amidst the Coronavirus pandemic such as disease containment and prevention, as well as social protection for the poor and economically vulnerable sections.
- Foreign Ministers of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) have held a virtual meeting to discuss the pandemic’s impact. A USD 15 billion fund will be set up via the New Development Bank for member nations to revive the economy.
- Karnataka has launched the Apthamitra helpline with an exclusive toll free No: 14410 and Apthamitra mobile app to reach out to people to help identify those having influenza-like illness (ILI), Severe Acute Respiratory Infection (SARI), COVID-19-like symptoms or having high risk of getting infected.
- The e-Gram Swaraj portal was inaugurated on Panchayati Raj Day by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. A new scheme – Swamitva Yojana – has also been launched to map land ownership in rural India using new technologies.