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Use WhatsApp Video, Tech To Screen Coronavirus Cases, Says TrueNorth’s Haresh Chawla

Use WhatsApp Video, Tech To Screen Coronavirus Cases, Says TrueNorth’s Haresh Chawla

Chawla recommended screening through WhatsApp video among other measures

Government needs to focus on economic impact as well, the VC added

India is said to have only 40K ventilators and only one isolation bed per 86K people

Given the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic and the impact on the economy and people, the Indian startup community has come together to tackle any issues and gaps. Haresh Chawla, partner at venture capital firm TrueNorth and the former CEO of media giant Network18, is the latest to join the bandwagon with a list of suggestions on boosting the healthcare capacity in India for the coronavirus and Covid-19 pandemic.

Chawla took to Twitter, on March 20, to share his insights on dealing with the problem of shortage in the Indian healthcare system and the added pressure on the medical community due to the coronavirus pandemic. He urged that the private testing should be allowed immediately and the first screening should be done through “WhatsApp video” as there is a high possibility of cross-infection at the screening centres.

He specified that all ventilators should be in working condition, citing an example of Delhi government hospitals, where 50 out of the 400 ventilators do not work. Chawla also brought up the example of Canada that managed to increase their ventilator capacity from one to nine with simple solutions.

In the series of Tweets, Chawal also highlighted the following:

  • There should be an emergency workaround oxygen intubation as India does not have enough ventilators, in any case
  • In case chloroquine, an anti-malaria medicine that is used to cripple the coronavirus, is deemed to be safe and effective, then it should be supplied to more vulnerable sections such as healthcare workers, elderly
  • Launch antibody testing to allow people who have developed immunity or mild infection.
  • Commandeer every healthcare professional and all facilities across India
  • Take control of hotels and identify coronavirus or Covid-19 hospitals, so that coronavirus does not spread to existing patients in the hospitals
  • Use technology to track nodal contact and craft protocols

Chawla also added that besides the health of citizens, the government should also ensure that the expected economic impact and slowdown does not do lasting damage to the more susceptible sectors in the industry and sections of the population.

A Times of India report suggested that India confirmed 68 new cases on Sunday (March 22) during the Janata Curfew, taking the number in India to over 400 cases. The report added that this was the second-highest spike in one day after 77 cases were reported on Saturday (March 21). Such a sharp rise has also bought the capacity of the Indian healthcare system into the picture.

The union health ministry data shows that India only has one isolation bed per 84,000 Indians and one quarantine bed per 36,000 in the country, as of March 17. Meanwhile, another report estimates that India has only 40K working ventilators for the 1.3 Bn people. Several experts have highlighted that the number is inadequate as in approximately 5% of cases of coronavirus, patients require intensive care unit (ICU) with acute breathing problems.