Passport services integrated with DigiLocker platform

Agencies
February 20, 2021

Image result for Passport services integrated with DigiLocker platform

New Delhi, Feb 20: Union Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan on Friday launched a new scheme by which an applicant can leverage the DigiLocker platform of the Government of India while applying for passport-related services from anywhere in India.

"With the launch of this new scheme, applicants applying for passport services can provide link to their specific documents uploaded in the DigiLocker. This would enable citizens to submit various documents required for Passport Services through DigiLocker in a paperless mode. They are not required to carry the original documents," read a release by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

DigiLocker is a key initiative under Digital India, a flagship program aimed at transforming India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy. DigiLocker provides citizens a sharable private space on a public cloud enabling availability of all documents/certificates provided on this cloud.

"Targeted at paperless governance, DigiLocker is a platform for issuance and verification of documents/ certificates in a digital way, thus eliminating the use of physical documents. Further, once passports are also uploaded in DigiLocker, details would be easily accessible to authorized users from any location, which would be useful especially in case of loss of passport," read the release.

The MEA said there was much improvement in passport-related services in the last 6 years.

"The Ministry plans to roll out ePassport for citizens, which will increase security and improve facilitation of immigration processes at foreign airports. In the upcoming Passport Seva Programme V2.0, the use of emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning, Chat-Bot, Analytics, Robotic Process Automation (RPA), etc. will help ease the citizen experience and expeditious service delivery," the ministry said. 

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Agencies
February 13,2021

Image result for Death toll mounts to 19 in fire incident at Virudhunagar factory in Tamil Nadu

Virudhunagar, Feb 13: The death toll in the fire incident that took place at the firecracker factory in Virudhunagar on Friday, has mounted to 19, said R Kannan, Viruthunagar district collector on Saturday.

As many as 30 people were critically injured at a massive fire.

"At around 1 pm on Friday, a loud noise was heard from the firecracker factory in Achankulam village near Sattur. More than a hundred employees work in Sakthivel owned factory. The plant is licensed to manufacture fancy crackers," said the district collector.

"Fire department workers dosed the fire after two hours. Nine people died on the spot in the firecracker accident. More than 30 injured were admitted to hospitals in Sattur, Kovilpatti and Sivakasi. Some more were injured and died without treatment," he added.

An ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh each has been approved from the Prime Minister Office's National Relief Fund (PMNRF) for the next of kin of those who have lost their lives due to a fire in Virudhunagar, Tamil Nadu.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami also announced ex-gratia amounts of Rs 3 lakhs each to the kin of the deceased and Rs 1 lakh each to the critically injured in the fire in a firecracker's factory in Virudhunagar.

He also instructed the district authorities and the medical experts to give the best treatment to the injured and asked the local administration to ensure that families of the deceased and the injured are informed.

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Agencies
February 12,2021

Jerusalem, Feb 12: The majority of the people can produce neutralising antibodies against the novel coronavirus in severe cases of Covid-19, according to a study that supports the use of combination antibody therapy to prevent and treat the disease.

The researchers noted that neutralising antibodies that specifically target the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein -- which the virus uses to enter human cells -- are thought to be essential for controlling it.

RBD-specific neutralising antibodies have been detected in convalescent patients -- those who have recovered from Covid-19, according to the team, including researchers from Tel Aviv University in Israel.

Some of the recovered patients tend to have robust and long-lasting immunity, while others display a waning of their neutralising antibodies, they said.

The study, published in the journal PLOS Pathogens, used molecular and bioinformatics techniques to compare B-cell responses in eight patients with severe Covid-19 and 10 individuals with mild symptoms, 1.5 months after infection.

B cells of immune system are responsible for mediating the production of antigen-specific immunoglobulin (Ig) directed against invasive pathogens.

The research found that very ill patients showed higher concentrations of RBD-specific antibodies and increased B-cell expansion.

Among 22 antibodies cloned from two of these patients, six exhibited potent neutralisation against SARS-CoV-2, the researchers said.

"Bioinformatics analysis suggests that most people would be capable of readily producing neutralising antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 in severe cases of Covid-19," they noted.

Moreover, the study shows that combinations of different types of neutralising antibodies completely blocked the live virus from spreading.

According to the researchers, these antibody cocktails can be further tested in clinical settings as a useful means to prevent and treat Covid-19.

"Even with a vaccine at our doorstep, arming clinicians with specific anti-SARS-CoV-2 therapeutics is extremely important," the researchers said.

"Combinations of neutralising antibodies represent a promising approach towards effective and safe treatment of severe Covid-19 cases, especially in the elderly population or chronically ill people, who will not be able to so easily produce these antibodies upon infection or vaccination," they added. 

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Agencies
February 19,2021

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Washington, Feb 19: Google Maps has blocked or removed 55 million policy-violating reviews and nearly three million fake Business Profiles in 2020.

This is 20 million fewer reviews than it removed in 2019 as it saw a drop in the overall number of reviews due to fewer people being out and about during Covid-19.

"We took down more than 960,000 reviews and more than 300,000 Business Profiles that were reported to us by Google Maps users," Google said in a statement on Thursday.

The company said that it reviewed and removed more than 160 million photos and 3.5 million videos from Maps that either violated its policies or were of low quality.

"Our technologies and teams disabled more than 610,000 user accounts after detecting and investigating suspicious or policy-violating behaviour. We stopped more than 3 million attempts by bad actors to verify Business Profiles on Google that didn't belong to them," the tech giant informed.

Since Google started accepting contributed content in 2010, more than 970 million people have updated Maps in the form of reviews, photos, ratings and factual information like addresses and business hours.

"We also deploy thousands of trained operators and analysts who help with content evaluations that might be difficult for algorithms, such as understanding reviews with local slang," said Dan Pritchett, Principal Software Engineer, Google Maps.

Google said that as more people share their local knowledge on Maps, it will continue to invest in the policies, technologies and resources needed to make sure information is reliable.

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