Coronavirus: Over 50 Start-Up Founders, VCs Urge Govt To Impose Strict Lockdown
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As the number of people testing positive for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues to rise in India, several in the country’s burgeoning start-up ecosystem including the founders of Bounce and Urban Company as well as the likes of Kunal Shah and Kunal Bahl, have petitioned with the government of India on immediate measures that need to be taken to contain the pandemic.
The ten-page document, endorsed by more than 50 entrepreneurs and those in the venture capital space, details out several recommendations along with data and statistics to back the points.
Impose Section 144 and Lock-Downs
The document, citing data, says countries such as South Korea and Singapore which have acted early and strongly, have been able to flatten the curve in terms of new cases compared to countries which waited longer. It also provides the example of the deadly Spanish Flu in 1918 that reportedly killed more than 50 million people worldwide.
“Learning from the 1918 flu pandemic indicates that early lockdowns are directly correlated with lower death rates,” it states.
It recognizes that while the country has started well with good containment efforts, such as travel restrictions, testing of all international passengers, temporary shutdowns of educational institutions among others, the time is now to take even stricter measures.
This is keeping in mind that actual cases, taking the example of how the virus has spread in other countries, are likely 600-2500 if the diagnosed cases are at 125. It states: “With these people having likely contacted 10-50 others, we may move to a community transmission sooner than 30 days from today.”
According to their own data modelling, a lock-down now versus 30 days later could help save five times more lives in just 90 days.
The document suggests imposition of Section 144 starting March 20. With the restrictions lifted by April 13, it states that there needs to be a precautionary phase with social distancing from then to May 17. It then recommends a second lockdown between May 18-31 before the opening up phase in June.
Some of the lockdown suggestions for the first phase include private enterprises being asked to work from home, all storefront and non-essential businesses such as bars and restaurants shut, public transport on need basis and cancelling all events.
Steps Needed To Prepare Well
The document notes that such steps will have economic and social cost, and hence, the government would need to take steps to prepare well.
These include preparing citizens in the pre-lockdown phase so there is no panic, maintaining the supply chain for essentials, government war rooms headed by the chief ministers of each state and scaling up infrastructure and rapid testing capacity.
List of those who have endorsed the document: