Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 22 July 2023

Climate change aiding spread of CCHF virus

GS Paper - 3 (Health and Diseases)

As Europe reels under a heatwave and wildfires, the rising temperatures have also raised fears of spread of viruses generally not found in colder climates. Alert has been sounded about the Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF), an infection spread by ticks that has a high fatality rate, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The CCHF is endemic to Africa, the Balkan countriesMiddle East, and parts of Asia.

What is CCHF?

  • According to the WHO, Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF) is a viral haemorrhagic fever usually transmitted by ticks. It can also be contracted through contact with viraemic animal tissues (animal tissue where the virus has entered the bloodstream) during and immediately post-slaughter of animals.
  • CCHF outbreaks constitute a threat to public health services as the virus can lead to epidemics, has a high case fatality ratio (10–40%), potentially results in hospital and health facility outbreaks, and is difficult to prevent and treat.”
  • The virus is present in the tick family of insects. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), animals such as cattlegoatssheep and hares serve as amplifying hosts for the virus. Transmission to humans occurs through contact with infected ticks or animal blood.
  • CCHF can be transmitted from one infected human to another by contact with infectious blood or body fluids”, such as sweat and saliva. The ticks can also be hosted by migratory birds, thus carrying the virus over long distances.
  • While the disease was first detected among soldiers in the Crimean Peninsula (near the Black Sea) in 1944, in 1969, it was found that an ailment identified in the Congo Basin was caused by the same pathogen. Thus, the disease was named the Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever.

What are the symptoms, cure of CCHF?

  • CCHF symptoms include fevermuscle achedizzinessneck painbackacheheadachesore eyes and sensitivity to light, according to the WHO.
  • There may be nauseavomitingdiarrhoeaabdominal pain and sore throat early on, followed by sharp mood swings and confusion. After 2–4 days the agitation may be replaced by sleepiness, depression and lassitude.
  • There is no vaccine for the virus in either humans or animals, and treatment generally consists of managing symptoms.
  • According to the WHO, the antiviral drug ribavirin has been used to treat CCHF infection with apparent benefit.


Section 69 (A) on social media platforms

GS Paper - 2 (Polity)

After a video of two Manipur women sparked outrage, the Centre has asked Twitter and other social media platforms to take down the video. The Centre has powers to issue content takedown orders to social media companies under Section 69 (A) of the Information Technology Act, 2000.

What is Section 69 (A)?

  • Section 69 of the IT Act allows the government to issue content-blocking orders to online intermediaries such as Internet Service Providers (ISPs)telecom service providersweb hosting services, search engines, online marketplaces, etc.
  • The Section requires the information or content being blocked to be deemed a threat to India’s national securitysovereignty, or public order.
  • If the Centre or state government are satisfied that blocking the content is “necessary” and “expedient” on grounds of “sovereignty or integrity of India, defence of India, security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence relating to above or for investigation of any offence,” it may, for reasons to be recorded in writing, direct any agency “to intercept, monitor or decrypt or cause to be intercepted or monitored or decrypted any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer resource,” the law says.
  • As per rules that govern these blocking orders, any request made by the government is sent to a review committee, which then issues these directions.
  • Blocking orders issued under Section 69 (A) of the IT Act are typically confidential in nature.

What has the SC said on Section 69 (A)?

  • In a landmark 2015 ruling, the Supreme Court in Shreya Singhal vs Union of India struck down Section 66A of the Information Technology Act of 2000, which entailed punishment for sending offensive messages through communication services, etc.
  • The plea had also challenged Section 69A of the Information Technology Rules 2009, but the SC held this to be “constitutionally valid”.
  • It will be noticed that Section 69A unlike Section 66A is a narrowly drawn provision with several safeguards. First and foremost, blocking can only be resorted to where the Central Government is satisfied that it is necessary to do so.
  • Secondly, such necessity is relatable only to some of the subjects set out in Article 19(2).
  • Thirdly, reasons have to be recorded in writing in such blocking order so that they may be assailed in a writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution, the Court noted.

How did the Karnataka HC rule on this?

  • Section 69A was again under legal scrutiny in July last year when Twitter approached the Karnataka HC against the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY).
  • Alleging disproportionate use of power by officials, Twitter challenged the Ministry’s content-blocking orders issued under Section 69 (A) after the IT Ministry wrote to the social media giant, asking it to comply with its orders or lose safe harbour protection.
  • In July this year, a single-judge bench of the Karnataka HC dismissed the plea, saying the Centre had the power to block tweets.
  • Justice Krishna D Dixit also ruled that the blocking powers of the Centre extend to not just single tweets but entire user accounts.


India, Sri Lanka adopt vision document

GS Paper - 2 (International Relations)

India and Sri Lanka adopted an ambitious vision document to significantly expand economic partnership after wide-ranging talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe. In his statement, the PM, referring to the economic difficulties in Sri Lanka last year, said India stood "shoulder-to-shoulder" with the people of the island nation during the crisis as a close friend.

More about the document

  • An agreement for launch of the UPI payment system in Sri Lanka will result in fintech connectivity between the two sides.
  • The security interests and development of India and Sri Lanka are intertwined and it is necessary to work together keeping in mind each other's security interests and sensitivities. A vision document for economic partnership has been adopted.
  • The vision is to accelerate mutual cooperation in areas of tourismpowertrade, higher education, skill development and connectivity.
  • The vision is to strengthen maritime, air, energy and people-to-people connectivity between the people of both the countries.
  • It was decided that talks will start soon on an agreement on economic and technological cooperation.
  • feasibility study will be conducted on the India-Sri Lanka petroleum pipeline.
  • On the fishermen issue, the prime minister said it should be handled under a humanitarian approach.

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