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Global Enterprises ramp-up efforts to ensure well-being of staff in India

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Global enterprises like IBM and Amazon have significantly ramped up efforts - including setting up vaccination drives and offering paid leaves and insurance - to ensure the well-being of their staff in India as the country reels under a deadly second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

In an email to employees, IBM Chief Executive Officer Arvind Krishna said the company will continue to take firm and coordinated action to support IBMers in India and other parts of the world where COVID is surging.

He said the company is supplementing medical coverage to ensure COVID-19 care for the employees and has put in place a dedicated health line to provide medical care and consultations from medical professionals for staff, who are isolating at home.

"We are supporting efforts to increase vaccination among IBMers. For those who volunteer, we are creating a decentralised distribution model where IBMers and their covered family members can get the vaccine in any approved center close to where they live or a facility on our own campuses...we are looking into providing emergency transport services to help IBMers and their families reach medical care in cities where we operate," Krishna said.

The massive rise in infections in the second wave of the pandemic has led to hospitals in several states reeling under a shortage of medical oxygen and beds. Social media timelines are filled with SOS calls with people looking for oxygen cylinders, hospital beds, plasma donors, and ventilators.

With India registering a record number of COVID-19 cases daily, there could be an impact on timelines for delivery of projects and IT services companies are looking at various options to tackle the challenge.

HCL Technologies, for example, had stated that it is engaging closely with clients to prioritise work, and shifting some workload from India to other geographies to ensure business continuity.

Amazon India Global Senior Vice President and Country Head India Amit Agarwal said the company continues to look for ways to help employees, including creating a bank of oxygen concentrators, oximeters, and other supplies.

"We have also launched an initiative where employees who have fully recovered from COVID-19 can volunteer to donate blood plasma and help other Amazonians and their loved ones. Amazonians have volunteered to create COVID warriors groups in cities to coordinate response for those in critical need," he added.

Agarwal noted that there are Indians in the US and around the world, who are reaching out for help as they are unable to take care of their family in India.

"We are discussing how we can scale our COVID support team to help with critical supplies," he said adding that the company is working on making COVID-19 tests easily accessible to all employees and is focused on getting employees vaccinated (as available) when broad eligibility opens up on May 1.

"We have made hotel rooms available for employees and their dependents who have mild COVID-19 symptoms and do not need intensive care for quarantine...Based on a patients' condition and unavailability of hospital beds, we are using the insurance support to help set up ICU/ventilator at home for COVID-19 treatment," he further said.

Organisations across the spectrum have come forward to source and donate oxygenators, breathing machines, and ventilators.

A group of Gurugram-based entrepreneurs have launched 'Mission Oxygen' and are importing oxygen concentrators (OCs). While the programme started with a target of raising Rs 2.5 crore to procure 500 OCs, more than 10,000 global donors helped raise more than Rs 10 crore for 800 additional OCs. The group has now set a target at Rs 20 crore, which will allow the procurement of at least 3,000 OCs.

Consumer tech products maker Boat said it has donated Rs 50 lakh to procure high-grade OCs and essential medical supplies for hospitals. The boat has partnered with SaveLIFE Foundation to deliver the OCs across Delhi and will work closely with the Health Department over the next few days for further distribution to the hospitals and COVID care centers. Yellow Messenger, a conversational AI platform, has launched 'Yellow Messenger Cares' that will help NGOs, hospitals, support groups, and businesses get an AI chatbot to drive crisis efforts.

When designed and deployed effectively, chatbots may help prevent misinformation, aid in symptom detection, engender infection-limiting behaviors, encourage positive health impacting behaviors, while reducing psychological damage caused by fear and isolation, the company said in a statement.

These bots can support real-time services like providing medical information related to plasma donation, oxygen/hospital bed availability, vaccine registrations, scheduling appointments, collecting patient data, mental health assistance, and handling insurance queries.

Caller ID app Truecaller has launched a COVID Hospital Directory for users in India that include telephone numbers and addresses of COVID-designated hospitals from multiple states across the country, sourced from official government databases.

A search button helps users quickly find the information they need. However, it does not assure hospital bed availability.

"We wanted to quickly introduce a simple directory of important numbers for COVID-related services. We have started with this hospital list and we're working to add more verified sources soon," Truecaller India Managing Director Rishit Jhunjhunwala said.

Shiprocket, a tech-enabled logistics aggregation platform, has launched a free service wherein it will provide free shipping of essential items for NGOs and non-profit organisations that are looking for assistance.

Organisations working to deliver items such as groceries, vital medication, medical equipment, and personal protective gear will be eligible to avail Shiprocket's free shipping services to supply the goods to hospitals or those in need.

Source - Business Standard

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