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In Lutyens’ area, several central govt offices hit by Covid

In Udyog Bhawan, an Additional PS to a Minister of State has tested positive. He last attended office on June 2. While close contacts have been advised self quarantine, the corridor surrounding his room was closed on June 3 for sanitisation.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Published: June 4, 2020 4:36:55 am
Govt employees are required to attend office, since lockdown was relaxed on May 18. Anil Sharma

With at least half a dozen central government offices in Lutyens’ Delhi reporting Covid cases, the Health Ministry Wednesday issued a 40-point advisory for government officials.

In Udyog Bhawan, an Additional PS to a Minister of State has tested positive. He last attended office on June 2. While close contacts have been advised self quarantine, the corridor surrounding his room was closed on June 3 for sanitisation.

In Shastri Bhawan, home to key ministries, a Joint Secretary-level officer of the Law Ministry tested positive Wednesday.

A day earlier, a driver of a Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Culture in Shastri Bhawan tested positive. The entire third floor of the C Wing was closed on June 3 and 4.

At Nirman Bhawan, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs issued a circular informing about an Assistant Section Officer-level official testing positive.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Finance issued an office memorandum about one of its Under-Secretary level officers, who works at North Block, testing positive. Two days ago, a senior NITI official tested positive.

“Wearing mask is mandatory for all employees,” the Health ministry advisory said. “Only asymptomatic persons shall be allowed in the building premises to attend office… Leave sanctioning authorities are advised to sanction leave whenever any request is made for self-quarantine as precautionary measure.”

“All employees are advised to take care of their health and look out for symptoms such as fever, respiratory problem and, if feeling unwell, should leave the work place immediately after informing their reporting officers. Employees should strictly avoid spreading rumours,” it said. Since the end of the second and third phases of the lockdown when the government ordered its employees to start coming to offices, even if in fewer numbers, cases have been coming to light.

Even Nirman Bhawan, which houses the Health Ministry, woke up on May 20 to news that an occupant of a third-floor room was positive.

The five-floor Rail Bhawan has seen nine positive cases. A contractor called the “langoor man” since he was in charge of driving away monkeys was also found positive, leading to 15 officials being home quarantined and the building sealed for two days.

“Offices may be open but Delhi remains a hotspot. Employees may be coming from highly infected places, even containment zones,” said an Additional Secretary to the government. “It is becoming more and more risky to attend work.”

With the biometric attendance system for government employees still suspended, sources said many are also leaving office before time to avoid getting infected.

At least two persons in the Ministry of External Affairs have tested positive, sources said Saturday. “The ministry has been proactive in handling any cases among its employees or consultants,” said a source.

“We are even making our own tea in office and bringing food from home,” said a Secretary of a ministry.

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