Influential entrepreneurs call for extreme measures to combat coronavirus

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 16 Mar 2020, 1:23PM
(Photo / NZ Herald)
(Photo / NZ Herald)

Influential entrepreneurs call for extreme measures to combat coronavirus

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 16 Mar 2020, 1:23PM

A group of New Zealand entrepreneurs is calling on the Government to introduce tougher measures to protect the nation against the impact of coronavirus.

The group, which has been communicating on social media, includes Zuru founder Nick Mowbray, founder of Sky TV Craig Heatley, Fantail Ventures founder Jonty Kelt, Valocity founder Carmen Vicelich, MindLab founder Frances Valintine, Smudge programme director Toby Vincent and entrepreneur Guy Horrocks.

They have made a unified call now for schools to be shut down as soon as possible, borders closed to all non-New Zealand citizens and residents, health screening at airports and a ban on all gatherings of over 100 people.

"The most important thing we can do right now is educate the New Zealand public on the need for proactive social distancing," the group said in a statement.

Over the weekend, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced all travellers will have to self-isolate on their arrival to New Zealand, apart from those coming from the Pacific Islands.

These measures came into effect at 1am on Monday morning.

The restrictions will be reviewed in 16 days and there will be more advice for self-isolation next week.

Despite these being some of the toughest measures in the world, the group of entrepreneurs did not see this as going far enough to protect the nation.

They also want to see a large investment into masks, sanitiser and thermal guns - particularly in the event that schools stay open.

New Zealand may have an advantage in terms of being geographically isolated, but the group warns that this could easily be squandered if New Zealand does not ramp up steps to keep the nation safe.

The statement points to the examples of Spain and Italy to show how even a few cases can exponentially grow to thousands of infections in only a short period of time.

The group warns that if we don't get infections under control through proactive measures, our healthcare system could quickly become overwhelmed.

Adding further complexity to the issue is the fact that many carriers don't exhibit any clear signs of carrying the virus.

"Recent data from South Korea, from them aggressively testing 200,000 people, show a large group of young 'super spreaders' who are infected but symptom-free, and are infecting the other higher risk [groups]," the statement said.

Mowbray has already implemented more intense testing at his own business.

Zuru's staff are currently thermal tested before entering the office and then given a second test later on in the day.

Their offices are being sanitised and cleaned on a daily basis while all staff are required to sanitise their hands before starting work. Workers are required to turn up at staggered 15-minute intervals to get into the office.

Staff are also not allowed to go to the office cafeteria, and lunches are being packaged individually and delivered to people.

Mowbray has been highly critical of the lack of testing at Auckland Airport and wants to see efforts ramped up.

"We need to get ahead of this. Now is the time to act," he told the Herald last week.

"There is no point waiting for it to become a crisis, because it will."