Q. What are the options for India to deal with the COVID 19?
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Replied by Soumya Awasthi

While a nationwide 21 days lockdown has begun in India from midnight (24/3) to help fight the COVID 19 , some of the other options that India can consider alongside are:

  1. India should help the neighbouring countries in establishing the isolation wards and quarantine camps. It can give them a guideline which can help them set up a similar arrangement in their respective countries. India should provide a kind of TO DO LIST which comprises of step by step procedure to establish a replica that is there in Manesar, Delhi-NCR which was also a yardstick for other such camps in India.
  2. India can also setup an online training camp for the Armed Forces Doctors and other Civil Doctors of the neighbouring countries hosted by the Armed Forces in India.
  3. State governments can call on companies in their jurisdictions to switch over into mask production. Asking its local production companies to upscale the production. It can further order the state government to switch some of the textile and garment industry to start producing masks at the moment so that it increases the mask supply. For example in China, an underwear factory in the north western city of Changchun spent slightly longer — eight days — fixing frozen pipes and finding delayed shipments of raw materials to get a daily production line for 3,000 masks started, after it became licensed to operate in early February.
  4. Learning from the Chinese strategy to combat the COVID and to address the supply and demand gap Shanghai officials asked some mattress companies to convert their factory lines to making medical supplies. The president of a private bedding company, to a Chinese news outlet, transformed ten of their lines to manufacture duvet covers into making protective gowns. And after using less than a handful of days to remodel its production process, it began making protective gowns, reporting a daily output of around 2,000.
  5. Similarly India should ask the Indian Institute of Technology to produce sanitizers in their labs and supply them to local hospitals and also involve the packaging industries to package them for supplying to its neighbourhood companies.
  6. Recently, Pune based molecular diagnostic company Mylab becomes the first Indian company to have received the validation for its Covid-19 diagnostic test kits also known as the Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) tests by the Drug Controller of India, after the National Institute of Virology validated its test. The other company to have received the approval is Germany's Altona Diagnostics. These companies should be asked to share the technological know-how to other diagnostic companies and Pharmaceutical industries in order to share the load of mass production. Although MyLab has assured that it can manufacture up to 1 lakh tests in a week which can be further scaled up if needed.
  7. Universities must collaborate on solutions to crises like the corona virus pandemic, therefore India should ask IITs and other software companies to work in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI), to create some kind of robot human interaction interface which reduces the COVID patients and doctors physical interaction and protect the immunity of the doctors as well. Software companies like Microsoft, Accenture and Infosys should work towards developing coding to feed into the robots which takes the temperature of the patients, blood samples, gives medicines and also has a screen which can connect the doctors through video for interaction with the patient.
  8. For example Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) innovations include autonomous robots to help deliver care and services and a sterilizer that removes up to 99.99% of different infectious viruses. These robots are also involved in sanitizing the public spaces and metros, trains, airplanes and metros.
  9. Drones and robots must be repurposed for disinfection. These technologies can help deal with massive staffing shortages in healthcare, manufacturing, and supply chains; the need for “social distancing;” and diagnosis and treatment. Another example is XAG an agricultural drone production company has increased the use of ground robots with aerial drones, converting agricultural units into disinfectant sprayers. The company had deployed more than 2,600 drones in China.
  10. In India, there are over 35 drone start-ups that are working to raise the technological standards and reduce the prices of agriculture drones. Recently Maharashtra government singed an agreement with World Economic Forum. These businesses can be used for addressing the Corona issue.
  11. Finally as per the recent video conferencing of the SAARC nations, Prime Minister Modi also spoke about conference of doctors from all the SAARC countries to discuss methods and treatments to follow. On 15th March 2020 India initiated the emergency meeting on combating COVID 19 and encouraged everyone to contribute voluntarily towards emergency fund which can help the SAARC Nations to combat the pandemic. India started the fund raising by offering 10 million USD and the initiative was welcomed by all the members of SAARC barring Pakistan. Rest of the member countries contributed in the following days by Sri Lanka ($5 million), Bangladesh ($1.5 million), Nepal ($1 million), Afghanistan ($1 million), Maldives ($200,000) and Bhutan ($100,000) taking the total amount in the Covid-19 Emergency Fund to $18.8 million.
  12. What India can do at present is that it should use the emergency fund to help the SAARC nations in procuring testing kits, sanitizers and masks from China and USA.
  13. At present under the COVID 19 pandemic Afghanistan has had only 10 cases so far. Bangladesh has 24 COVID cases and is implementing lockdown as per the guidelines of World Health Organisation (WHO). It lacks basic facilities that should help them identify the cases. Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar have 2 cases each, whereas Sri Lanka has approximately 100 cases; Maldives confirmed 13 cases, and lastly Pakistan’s confirmed cases have jumped up to around 810 cases.
Date : 26/03/2020
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