As the Coronavirus pandemic has now spread to more than 110 countries, and the World Health Organization (WHO) is calling for aggressive action by authorities to curb the spread. As many as 51 Indian start-ups have sent a petition to the central as well as state governments in India with a set of recommendations to slow down the spread of the highly infectious Coronavirus, or COVID-19. The suggestions that they have put forward include imposition of Section 144 as well as lockdowns in key cities with international airports for a certain period of time, maintaining a supply chain of essentials regular reassessment of the situation and gradual reopening after restrictions.
The startups that have endorsed this set of suggestions include Abhiraj Bhal, Raghav Chandra and Varun Khaitan of Urban Company (formerly UrbanClap), Kunal Shah of Cred, Kunal Bahl of Snapdeal, Rohan Verma of MapmyIndia, Gaurav Munjal of Unacademy and Varun Jain of Zoomtail, among others. The four key suggestions that this petition, seen by News18, puts forward are: Complete lockdown of all major cities, especially those with international airports; Explore imposing Section 144 as a measure to implement the above; Ban or restrict inter-city travel, including via rail and road; and increase testing for COVID-19 exponentially while allowing private players to enable the same.
HAVE YOU READ?
The startup founders recommend that the first phase of lockdown should happen between March 20 and April 12, which will include shutdown of all non-essential businesses, work from home for private companies, all educational institutions as well as entertainment outlets to remain shut, public transport only on a limited basis as well all religious places being closed for public access. They suggest that the second step which starts April 13 to April 17 should see a partial removal of section 144 in certain places, while shops can reopen. However, educational institutions, restaurants, cinema halls as well as public gatherings remain inaccessible while private companies continue to work from home. They suggest that a second lockdown start from May 18 to May 31—their reasoning comes from the observations from 1918 flu pandemic which saw a peak of infections in Denver immediately after the restrictions were taken away. From June, the startup founders say, we can resume life as normal, while taking extra precautions with social distancing and personal hygiene.
“Countries which have acted early and strongly (South Korea, Singapore, Japan etc.) are able to “flatten the curve” and bring down cases compared to those which waited and watched (Iran, Italy, France and USA),” they say. The Coronavirus cases in India are on a rise. At the time of writing this, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of the Government of India officially pegs the confirmed cases in India at 140, with Maharashtra having 38 confirmed cases, Kerala with 25 and Uttar Pradesh with 15 being the worst hit.
The medical community around the world is recommending a strong personal hygiene regimen in the meantime. Wash your hands regularly with soap for at least 30 seconds, use hand sanitizers preferably with higher alcohol content which helps deal with viruses) and keep a safe distance from fellow human beings when you are outdoors.