THE Ahmedabad district authorities on Thursday directed Cadila Pharmaceuticals at Trasad village in Dholka tehsil to shut down its operations till further orders after 26 of its employees tested positive for COVID-19.
While five employees were found positive on May 5, 21 more tested positive on Wednesday forcing the authorities to shut down the unit where 1,200-1,600 employees worked in two shifts.
“We are shutting down the office and the packaging unit after the employees tested positive. Of those tested, 21 were found to be positive. They were not just from Dholka, but came from Gandhinagar, Ahmedabad, Kheda and other parts. They should have taken more care especially when a few people were found positive about a week back. They should have taken precautions. In continuation of the contact tracing, we tested more and then we got these 21 more employees,” said Arun Babu, District Development Officer of Ahmedabad who visited Dholka on Wednesday evening before the decision to shut down the facility was taken.
A senior administrative officer from the district said that apart from main office, the pharma company also has a packaging unit at Trasad village in Dholka. “The packaging unit has also been asked to shut. The company’s research unit which is situated near Gandhinagar has been allowed to continue its operations,” the officer said.
Ahmedabad Collector K K Nirala could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.
Resident Additional Collector (RAC) Harshad Vora said, “The Chief District Health Officer (CDHO) from the district panchayat carried out an inquiry where it was found that because of this unit, problems have arisen in the rural area (of the district). And since we have the magisterial power, we have taken immediate decision (of ordering the company to discontinue its operations).”
Officials from Cadila Pharmaceuticals said that they discontinued all operations at the Dholka unit from Thursday. “The moment we got to known about the positive cases, we shut it and we informed the employees and the government authorities,” said a spokesperson of the company.
According to the official, after the first five employees tested positive on May 5, including a local employee from Dholka who came in contact with an infected fruit vendor, over 500 primary and secondary contacts of these infected employees were tested. “Over 500 tests were conducted by the government including employees who were showing symptoms,” the official said.
“There are multiple plants that run within the facility. We want to sanitise the entire area,” the spokesperson said.
He said the district administration officials had visited the unit a few days back and were “happy” with the measures being taken. The official said the company has been following the government directives including usage of thermal scanners, hand sanitisers, and social distancing.
A few weeks ago, the Drugs Controller General of India had approved clinical trials to evaluate the efficacy of Cadila’s drug Sepsivac in reducing mortality among critically ill COVID-19 patients. The company spokesperson said that the COVID-19 related drug trials were not happening at the Dholka facility. “It is being done by CSIR (Council of Scientific and Industrial Research) at AIIMS Delhi and Bhopal,” the official said. The Dholka facility manufactures Sepsivac.
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