Industrial clusters, including pharmaceutical companies, which were operational even during the lockdown, account for a good number of fresh cases of Covid-19 being reported in Ahmedabad district.
Two employees, one each from Intas Pharmaceuticals and Zydus Cadila tested positive for the virus, taking the number of positive cases to 170 in rural Ahmedabad, where 35 per cent of the infected are working in industrial clusters, including those belonging to pharmaceutical companies, according to officials.
Cadila Pharmaceuticals with unit in Dholka has lost three employees to Covid-19, and is reported to have 70 infected employees. The plant that manufactures the drug Sepsivac that was cleared for clinical trials to test how it could reduce mortality among Covid-19 patients, has been shut since May 5.
The state government has started “screening” in all the industrial clusters of Ahmedabad district where so far 18,019 workers have already been screened and checked for Covid symptoms since May 3.
Of the total 170 positive cases in Ahmedabad district as on Monday, 32 per cent was from villages, 33 per cent from municipalities, while the remaining 35 per cent was from industrial clusters. “With industries reopening and people leaving homes in large numbers, there has been a rise in the number of employees who are testing positive, and in the coming days, these numbers may go up,” a state government official told The Indian Express.
While the percentage increase in positive Covid cases between March 26- April 14 is just six per cent, the growth in cases accelerated to 24 per cent during the first wave of relaxation to the industry from April 15 to May 3, while cases grew by 36 per cent after the second wave of relaxations from May 4 to 17.
The district administration has put in place screening process from the first week of May. “Since May 3, we asked all industrial units to screen their employees and inform us if anyone is found with Covid symptoms,” said a state government official adding that a written undertaking has been taken from the industry.
Of the total workers screened so far, 57 per cent are from Sanand industrial hub, which houses automobile giants like Ford and Tata Motors, while 26 per cent is from Mandal industrial cluster, which has the likes of Honda and Suzuki Corporation. Basic health check-up of workers from Bavla, Daskroi, Viramgam, Dandhuka among others have also been completed.
There was a spurt in cases after industries reopened on April 20. “This screening, which is not a Covid test, also helped in detection of about 70 employees from Cadila Pharmaceutical’s unit at Dholka, who tested positive during the month of May,” the official said adding that employees from the industrial clusters of Moraiya, Changodar and Mandal have also tested positive for the virus.
After employees from Cadila Pharmaceuticals tested positive, the district administration also visited the facilities of Zydus Cadila, Intas Pharmaceuticals and Troika Pharmaceuticals.
“Two employees of pharmaceutical companies in Ahmedabad rural tested positive on Sunday. One works with Zydus Cadila and the other works with Intas Pharmaceuticals. There has been a spurt in the number of employees who are testing positive in and around Bopal. Most of them travel for about an hour from Ahmeda-bad to their respective workplaces in buses operated by their firms. The employees can get infected during such transit,” says Jigisha Shah, president of Bopal-Ghuma municipality, which is sandwiched between Ahmedabad city and industrial clusters like Sanand.
Three employees of Intas Pharmaceuticals who tested positive for Covid-19 in the last week are undergoing treatment. “Company has tied up with a leading hospital for priority treatment of their employees. Designated officers are constantly monitoring the health status of these employees and ensuring support to them and their family members… The company has also completed their contact tracing and have instructed additional employees to be on home quarantine as per government guidelines,” read the company’s statement.
Zydus Cadila did not comment on the health of the employees at their facility in Ahmedabad.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines