News: Amid the increasing instances of mucormycosis or black fungus, the Rajasthan government on Wednesday declared it an epidemic and a notifiable disease. It will be mandatory for the health facilities to report every case of the disease in the State.
Mucormycosis is any fungal infection caused by fungi.
Mucormycosis is a very rare infection.
It is caused by exposure to mucor mould which is commonly found in soil, plants, manure, and decaying fruits and vegetables.
It is ubiquitous and found in soil and air and even in the nose and mucus of healthy people.
Doctors believe mucormycosis, which has an overall mortality rate of 50%, may be being triggered by the use of steroids, a life-saving treatment for severe and critically ill Covid-19 patients.
Steroids reduce inflammation in the lungs for Covid-19 and appear to help stop some of the damage that can happen when the body’s immune system goes into overdrive to fight off coronavirus. But they also reduce immunity and push up blood sugar levels in both diabetics and non-diabetic Covid-19 patients.
It’s thought that this drop in immunity could be triggering these cases of mucormycosis.
What is Epidemic?
An epidemic is the rapid spread of disease to a large number of people in a given population within a short period of time.
Epidemics of infectious disease are generally caused by several factors including a change in the ecology of the host population (e.g., increased stress or increase in the density of a vector species), a genetic change in the pathogen reservoir or the introduction of an emerging pathogen to a host population (by movement of pathogen or host).
An epidemic may be restricted to one location; however, if it spreads to other countries or continents and affects a substantial number of people, it may be termed a pandemic.
2. UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITES
News: Six sites, including the Ganga ghats in Varanasi, temples of Kancheepuram and the Satpura Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh, have been added to India’s tentative list of UNESCO world heritage sites.
Six of the nine sites submitted by the Archaeological Survey of India had been accepted by UNESCO for inclusion in the tentative list, which is a requirement before the final nomination of any site.
The recently-included proposals are the Maratha military architecture in Maharashtra, the Hire Bengal megalithic site in Karnataka and Bhedaghat-Lametaghat of Narmada Valley in Madhya Pradesh.
About World Heritage Sites:
A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area with legal protection by an international convention administered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
World Heritage Sites are designated by UNESCO for having cultural, historical, scientific or other form of significance. The sites are judged to contain “cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity”.
To be selected, a World Heritage Site must be a somehow unique landmark which is geographically and historically identifiable and has special cultural or physical significance. For example, World Heritage Sites might be ancient ruins or historical structures, buildings, cities, deserts, forests, islands, lakes, monuments, mountains, or wilderness areas.
A World Heritage Site may signify a remarkable accomplishment of humanity, and serve as evidence of our intellectual history on the planet, or it might be a place of great natural beauty.
With 55 selected areas each, China and Italy are the countries with the most sites on the list.
The sites are intended for practical conservation for posterity, which otherwise would be subject to risk from human or animal trespassing, unmonitored, uncontrolled or unrestricted access, or threat from local administrative negligence. Sites are demarcated by UNESCO as protected zones.
The World Heritage Sites list is maintained by the international World Heritage Program administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, composed of 21 “states parties” that are elected by their General Assembly.
Up to 2004, there were six criteria for cultural heritage and four for natural heritage. In 2005, this was modified so that now there is only one set of ten criteria. Nominated sites must be of “outstanding universal value” and meet at least one of the ten criteria.
These criteria have been modified or amended several times since their creation:
“To represent a masterpiece of human creative genius”
“To exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design”
“To bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared”
“To be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history”
“To be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change”
“To be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance”
“to contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance”
“to be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth’s history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features”
“to be outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals”
“to contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation”
A country may request to extend or reduce the boundaries, modify the official name, or change the selection criteria of one of its already listed sites.
Any proposal for a significant boundary change or to modify the site’s selection criteria must be submitted as if it were a new nomination, including first placing it on the Tentative List and then onto the Nomination File.
A request for a minor boundary change, one that does not have a significant impact on the extent of the property or affect its “outstanding universal value”, is also evaluated by the advisory bodies before being sent to the committee. Such proposals can be rejected by either the advisory bodies or the Committee if they judge it to be a significant change instead of a minor one.
Proposals to change a site’s official name are sent directly to the committee.
A site may be added to the List of World Heritage in Danger if conditions threaten the characteristics for which the landmark or area was inscribed on the World Heritage List.
Such problems may involve armed conflict and war, natural disasters, pollution, poaching, or uncontrolled urbanisation or human development.
This danger list is intended to increase international awareness of the threats and to encourage counteractive measures.
Threats to a site can be either proven imminent threats or potential dangers that could have adverse effects on a site.
3. TIWAN STRAIT AND EAST CHINA SEA
News: China on Wednesday protested the latest passage by a U.S. Navy ship through the Taiwan Strait, calling it a provocation that undermined peace and stability in the region.