With the total number of positive Covid-19 cases crossing the 20K mark on Tuesday, the on-ground situation in India is getting more serious. As the testing capacity increases, more and more cases are being uncovered, which has brought into focus the challenge that the pandemic poses for such a huge population.
The government has turned to public-private partnerships to bolster the healthcare system and cross the capacity hurdles. The Technology Development Board (TDB), a statutory body of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), has approved financial support to Pune-based MyLab Discovery Solutions for ramping up production of Covid-19 diagnostic kits they have developed.
The startup will ramp up the production of the kits through automation of the facility from a currently manual process, thereby increasing its current capacity from 30000 tests per day to one lakh test per day. MyLab is expected to complete the automation within the next few months. This kit has been approved by ICMR and CDSCO. The kit will be deployed in a very short time, considering the national emergency.
MyLab said that multiple investors have shown their interest in the company while a few have already infused the funds. MyLab has also secured INR 1 Cr from the Action Covid-19 Team (ACT) grants with the group of founders, investors, and venture capitals also helping the company solve supply-chain issues.
With layoffs, pay cuts and furloughs enveloping businesses trying to extend their cash runway, startups have their own set of problems, but many of them have stepped up to make life easier for the needy sections of the population. In the social commerce sector, startups like Meesho, Shop101 have let go of employees, while others have also opted for this approach to cut costs.
Even as the country looks forward to the end of lockdown, the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) has said that the government should enable small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the service sector to operate, so that they can continue to retain employees while giving maximum cash salaries to them, even as the economy slowly begins to recover. IAMAI has also suggested that for an interim period of six months till the demand and cash flow is regularised, the contribution to the EPF by both the employer and the employee be put on hold.
Ecommerce Hurdles And Essential Categories
Addressing customers concerns about delay in deliveries, BigBasket cofounder Hari Menon recalls how immediate measures helped them through the initial hiccup.
In a series of tweets, Menon explained that BigBasket usually prepares for demands three months ahead. This includes setting up warehouses, procuring racks, picking devices, crates, hiring people, delivery vans, among others. “The list is quite long but meticulously planned,” he added.
Over the last few weeks you may have found it hard to find slots on bigbasket (hopefully you’re finding it better over the last few days). I thought I’d try to explain why.
— Hari Menon (@harimenon_bb) April 20, 2020
In the initial days of the crisis, BigBasket was delivering 30K orders per day, but now the company is delivering around 283K orders per day. Menon said that the expectations of the people are three to six times this number and the company is trying to do its best to deliver all the orders.
Further, Bigbasket said that it has initiated an ImpactGuru campaign to raise funds for providing meals to families affected due to the nation-wide lockdown to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. The funds will be routed to KVN Foundation to cover over 30 lakh meals as part of their ‘FeedMyCity’ initiative. The foundation aims to provide freshly cooked nutritious meals to needy families in Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Noida, and Chennai.
While currently other ecommerce companies have been tasked with the responsibility of sorting essential and non-essential deliveries. The Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) has asked ecommerce companies to submit a list of limited items that can be considered as essentials. The move follows apprehensions expressed by ecommerce majors following the centre’s caveat issued on April 19 which threw a spanner on their plans to resume full operations. The Center’s move seems to be spurred by the new work-from-home trend followed by most offices.
Once the list is submitted, DPIIT will forward it to the ministry of home affairs (MHA) for a final nod. For the time being, the ecommerce companies are looking to start delivery of work-from-home essentials like internet routers, chargers, laptops, tablets, and stationeries.
Robots Help Out Hospitals
The consumer robotics brand Milagrow has announced that its AI-powered robots– Milagrow iMap 9 and Humanoid ELF – will be tested in the advanced Covid-19 ward at AIIMS, Delhi. Manufactured in India, the Milagrow iMap 9 is a floor disinfecting robot that can navigate and sanitize the floors without any human intervention.
It can destroy pathogens on floor surfaces using a sodium hypochlorite solution, as recommended by ICMR. The Milagrow Humanoid ELF enables doctors to monitor and interact with contagious Covid-19 patients remotely with no human contact, thereby significantly reducing the transmission risk.
In a bid to provide real-time updated information about essential stores including timings, stock availability of key items, safety precautions and crowding, a group of volunteers has launched Covidmaps.in, The crowdsourced initiative has already hit over 1000 daily active users in less than two days and has more than 50 submissions. The group is looking to back the efforts of authorities on the ground and give individuals more clarity on what’s open and what’s not.
On the government front, the centre will conduct a telephonic survey to gather feedback from citizens on the prevalence of Covid-19 symptoms. This survey is to be carried out by NIC and calls will be made to registered mobile phones for the survey.
Enabling Movement In The Crisis
Ola CEO Bhavish Aggarwal has said that the company’s emergency mobility services for medical personnel and other frontline workers to and from hospitals is now live in 15 cities and 1000 hospitals.
We launched @Olacabs Emergency in-app less than two weeks ago to exclusively serve medical trips to and from hospitals for citizens. The response and collaboration from Governments has been very encouraging! We are now live in 15 cities across India. More: https://t.co/NE5PARUBaW pic.twitter.com/SR3gPELhGb
— Bhavish Aggarwal (@bhash) April 20, 2020
Similarly, employee transportation platform MoveInSync said it has added features to support the travel amid lockdown. It has introduced special routing for Red, Orange, and Green Zones to detect the lockdown status of the location as specified by the government and arrange special routes. It has also introduced routing based on employee tagging (improves social distancing) to tag employees and create special routes for them.
MoveInSync has added contactless sign-in and there is also a feature which allows companies to seamlessly send important communications to employees tailored to geography, shift, or office. Further, an alarm system helps transport managers to keep a strict eye on vehicles that violate the planned routes and enter Red Zones.
The security and community management solution MyGate said it has collaborated with Grofers, ITC and StoreSe in an attempt to restore the delivery of groceries and essentials at its over 7000 gated communities. MyGate said it has extended these services to over 3500 communities across 7 cities.
Oro Cabs has tied up with Meals of Happiness to help provide food supplies to 200 cab drivers in Gurugram. Further, talent development suite provider SumTotal said it has made a contribution of INR 8 lakh towards Telangana Government’s CM Relief Fund in an endeavour to help support the state’s fight against coronavirus pandemic.