As Centre and states devise measures to check the spread of novel coronavirus, several start-founders have come up with a solution. In a presentation prepared and endorsed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, 51 founders and venture capitalists have suggested a strict lockdown for two weeks across major cities, starting Friday this week.
The document has been presented and endorsed by 1mg CEO Prashant Tandon, Snapdeal CEO Kunal Bahl, Red Bus Founder Phanindra Sharma, Urban Company (formerly UrbanClap) co-founders Abhiraj Bhal, Varun Khaitan, Raghav Chandra, MapmyIndia CEO Rohan Verma, CRED Founder Kunal Shah and others.
"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 (e.g., Iran, Italy, France and USA)," the presentation stated.
Taking the example of contagion levels in Wuhan, the entrepreneurs said that actual undiagnosed cases are typically 5-20 times the diagnosed cases, and India therefore, can have 600 to 2,500 COVID-19 cases.
Stating that containment activities like travel restrictions, mandatory testing, temporary shutdowns and work from home must continue, the presentation said a lot more needs to be done, "and sooner rather than later". It suggested that government should impose a 2-3 week lockdown with Section 144 now and be prepared for a second lockdown later. Imposing a lockdown this week instead of 30 days later would help save 10,000 lives in just 90 days, it further stated.
Proposing a timeline for the lockdown, the start-up founders suggested that the first lockdown should be implemented from March 20 to April 12, followed by a precautionary phase with social distancing from April 13 to May 17. They proposed a second lockdown from May 18 to May 31, and lifting restrictions from June onwards.
The start-up founders cautioned that a lockdown will have economic and social implications, and steps will have to be taken to prepare for them. They recommended maintaining supply chains for essentials like food items and medicine, and ensuring public transportation and cash availability in ATMs.
The presentation said that war rooms headed by chief ministers should be set up in each state. These war rooms should have a crisis management group comprising senior administrative officials at district levels, a toll-free number for citizens to access real time information, and mechanisms to check racketeering and profit making.
The entrepreneurs also suggested scaling up testing infrastructure by facilitating private sector and increasing import of test kits.