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Daily Current Affairs – 2020

Topic: For Prelims and Mains

Alfa & Beta corona viruses

11th June, 2020

What are corona viruses?

Coronaviruses are a large family of single-stranded RNA viruses that cause diseases in animals and humans.

  • Broadly, coronaviruses (CoV) are the largest group of viruses that belong to the Nidovirales order which includes Coronaviridaeamong three others.
  • Coronavirinae are one of the two subfamilies of Coronaviridea, with the other being Torovirinae.
  • Coronavirinaecan be further subdivided into alpha, beta, gamma and delta coronaviruses.

These viruses are named so because of spikes found on their surface that give them the appearance of a crown when looked through an electron microscope.

The first coronavirus was isolated in 1937 and it was the infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) that caused respiratory disease in chickens.


Coronaviruses which affect humans:

  • While there are hundreds of coronaviruses that cause diseases in animals such as pigs, camels, bats and cats, till date seven different types of coronaviruses have been identified that infect humans.
  • In the last two decades, more aggressive coronaviruses have emerged that are capable of causing serious illness and even death in humans. These include SARS-CoV, MERS and now SARS-CoV-2.

In 1965, scientists DJ Tyrrell and ML Bynoe were the first ones to identify a human coronavirus, which they isolated from the nasal washing of a male child who had symptoms of common cold. They termed the strain B814 and later in 1968 the term “coronavirus” was accepted.

Seven types that infect humans:

  • Includes two alpha coronaviruses (229E and NL63)
  • and four beta coronaviruses (OC43, HKU1, MERS and SARS-CoV).

 The sources:

  • Coronaviruses from all four categories can be found in mammals. But, bat coronaviruses are the likely gene source of alpha and beta coronaviruses.
  • The avian coronaviruses are the probable gene sources of gamma and delta coronaviruses.


When the human coronaviruses were first identified?

229E: Discovered in 1967.

NL63 and HKU1: First identified in the Netherlands in 2004.

SARS-CoV: 2003 in China.

MERS: 2012 in Saudi Arabia (transmitted by dromedary camels).

SARS-CoV-2: 2019 in Wuhan (source not yet known, possibly bats.

UNESCO Intangible cultural Heritages from India

Why in news?

The Ministry of Culture has launched the draft National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) of India.

Key Points:

  • The National ICH List is an attempt to recognize the diversity of Indian culture embedded in its intangible heritage.
  • It aims to raise awarenessabout the various intangible cultural heritage elements from different states of India at national and international level and ensure their protection.
  • This initiative is also a part of the Vision 2024 of the Ministry of Culture.
  • The list has more than 100 elements which also include 13 elements recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

The 2003 Convention is a part of the Convention Concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage which was adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO in 1972 in order to promote the identification, protection and safeguarding of natural cultural heritage.

  • Kerala’smartial art form, Kalaripayuttu, and the practice of making designs at the entrance of homes and temples called kolam in Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh are included in the draft list.
  • The present items in the list have been collated from the projects sanctioned under the scheme for ‘Safeguarding the Intangible Cultural Heritage and Diverse Cultural Traditions of India’formulated by the Ministry of Culture in 2013.


Facts for Prelims

Bangalore Blue:

  • Bangalore Blue is a variety of fox grapes grown in districts around Bangalore.
  • It is one of the three major varieties of grape in the state of Karnataka (the other two being Thomson seedless and Anab-E-Shahi Dilkush).
  • In 2013, the variety was given the Geographical Indication(GI) status.

Maze ransomware:

  • Cognizant, an IT services provider, has said that it has faced a Mazeransomware attack that has caused disruptions to its clients.
  • Ransomware is a type of malicious program used by hackers to take control of files in an infected system and then demand hefty payments to recover them.
  • The Maze ransomware was discovered in 2019 and has since increased its presence.



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