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Advisory issued for WhatsApp Users and Admins during the Covid-19 Pandemic [READ ADVISORY]

Predicaments like the one the world is currently facing, give rise to an array of fake news and misinformation, which is used by multiple groups to promote their own interests. Such information is commonly shared and forwarded however it does have serious consequences and largely influences public sentiment.  

With a sudden surge in the magnitude of sources that are now being used for procuring information, it is becoming all the more difficult to look for authentic and reliable news. During times of crisis, it is often seen that social media platforms are exploited by users to propagate fake news and misinformation. These platforms are also immensely used by people to promote their communal and political interests. While it is a difficult task to identify such incorrect data, it is also a herculean task to regulate its promulgation. This increases the responsibility on users and admins to ensure that the information being circulated in their social media sphere is authentic and is in no way part of this propaganda. 

The Cyber Cell of Maharashtra Police has released an advisory to be followed by WhatsApp users and Admins during the Covid-19 Pandemic to regulate the spread of fake news and misinformation that might have the repercussion of inciting panic and hate among classes of the population. While the advisory in itself, is not binding in nature, it does list down several statutory offences one might be liable under if caught spreading misinformation, promoting enmity between groups, making assertions prejudicial to national integration and so on. 

The guidelines laid down in the advisory are simply a set of precautions that can be followed in an age where social media is being so actively and vastly used. An adherence to these guidelines will also save users and admins from any kind of statutory liability that they might otherwise be legally responsible for.  

A train standing on the outskirts
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Non-AC ICF Coaches turned into Isolation Cabins

As part of COVID-19 preparedness, it has been decided by Indian Railways that it would be prepared to modify 20000 coaches into quarantine/ isolation coaches to augment the quarantine facilities being created in the country. 

In this connection consultations were held with Armed Forces Medical Services, Medical Department of various Zonal Railways, and Ayushman Bharat, Ministry of Health, Government of India. Five Zonal Railways have already prepared prototypes for the quarantine/ isolation coaches. 

These modified 20000 coaches can accommodate upto 3.2 lac possible beds for isolation needs. Work on modification of 5000 coaches, which are to be converted initially into quarantine/ isolation coaches has already started. These 5000 coaches would be having capacity to accommodate upto 80000 beds. One coach is expected to have 16 beds for isolation. 

Only Non-AC ICF sleeper coaches are being planned to be utilized for conversion into Quarantine/ isolation coaches. One Indian style toilet is to be converted into a bathing room. It is to be equipped with bucket, mug and soap dispenser. Taps with lift type handle would be provided in washbasins. Similar tap to be provided at proper height so that bucket can be filled.

Supreme Court of India
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24 Hours portal for real time information: SC to Centre

The Supreme Court asked the Centre set up within 24 hours a portal for disseminating real time information on the pandemic to counter the panic being spread through fake news. 

The Supreme Court, on Tuesday, asked the Centre to prevent migration of people due to coronavirus. “Panic will destroy more lives than the virus”, the top court said and asked the Centre to get trained counsellors and community leaders of all faiths to calm down the migrants, who are kept in shelter homes across the country. 

It asked the Centre to prevent migration of people and take care of their needs of food, shelter, nourishment and medical aid. It was also stated that these shelters should be run by volunteers and not the police, and there should be no use of force and intimidation. 

The Centre told the apex court that the suggestion by a petitioner to sprinkle water and chemicals on migrants to sanitise them does not work scientifically and is not the right way.

On the role of the High Courts, the Top Court, which had refused to restrain High Courts from taking up the issue of migrants, said they may monitor the issue more closely. It, however, asked the Centre to tell government lawyers to inform high courts about the orders passed by the apex court.

U.S. President Mr. Donald Trump
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“Hell of a bad two weeks”: Trump

As the number of positive cases and deaths in America increase at an alarming rate, Trump wants every American to be prepared for the hard days that lie ahead. 

President Donald Trump warned Americans to brace for a “hell of a bad two weeks” ahead as the White House projected there could be 100,000 to 240,000 deaths in the U.S. from the coronavirus pandemic if the current norms continue to operate.  

The Public health officials stressed on Tuesday that the number could be less if people across the country bear down on keeping their distance from one another. 

“We really believe we can do a lot better than that,” said Dr. Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force. That would require all Americans to take seriously their role in preventing the spread of disease, she said. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, added that “This is a number that we need to anticipate, but we don’t necessarily have to accept it as being inevitable.” 

President Trump called it “a matter of life and death” for Americans to heed his administration’s guidelines and predicted the country would soon see a “light at the end of the tunnel” in a pandemic that in the United States has infected about 190,000 people and killed about 4,000, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University. He admitted  that America is going to lose thousands of people and that the coming two or three weeks will be the roughest that America has seen. 

The jaw-dropping projections were laid out during a grim, two-hour White House briefing. Officials described a death toll that in a best-case scenario would likely be greater than the more than 53,000 American lives lost during World War I. And the model’s high end neared the realm of possibility that Americans lost to the virus could approach the 291,000 Americans killed on the battlefield during World War II. 

“There’s no magic bullet,” Birx said. “There’s no magic vaccine or therapy. It’s just behaviors. Each of our behaviors, translating into something that changes the course of this viral pandemic.” 

While Fauci urged Americans to “step on the accelerator” with their collective mitigation efforts. “We are continuing to see things go up,” Fauci said. “We cannot be discouraged by that because the mitigation is actually working and will work.

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