Nanjangud cluster: Patient zero remains a mystery

Nanjangud-based Jubilant Life Sciences Ltd. Special Arrangement  

The investigation into the outbreak of COVID-19 at a pharmaceutical company in Nanjangud has come to the conclusion that the source of infection, or patient zero, cannot be pinpointed at this juncture.

Senior IAS officer Harsh Gupta, who is also the designated nodal officer for the containment of COVID-19 in Mysuru, said that an exercise to identify patient zero at this stage would be of no help in containing the disease, which has already afflicted more than 70 persons connected to the company.

Mr. Gupta, tasked by the State government to conduct a probe into the outbreak of COVID-19 at Jubilant Life Sciences, the pharmaceutical company, had even sought the assistance of technical experts to identify the source of the infection. However, the efforts drew a blank.

The technical experts assisting Mr. Gupta said identifying the source of infection was not possible right now. The other experts with whom Mr. Gupta consulted were also of the opinion that identifying patient zero at this point would not be of any help either.

The probe report, which has been submitted to the government, has instead outlined the measures needed to prevent further spread of COVID-19.

A 35-year-old employee in the quality assurance department of the pharma firm, identified as P-52, was the first person to test positive. Subsequently, 74 persons from the company, including employees and their primary and secondary contacts, tested positive.

No history

While police investigation showed that P-52 had no travel or contact history, a sample of raw material imported by the company from China had tested negative for the novel coronavirus during tests conducted by the National Institute of Virology, Pune.

The State government ordered a probe by the senior IAS officer after the police and health officials were unable to unravel the source of infection. Officials were unsure about whether P-52 was the first person to be afflicted or he had contracted COVID-19 from others.

Mr. Gupta sought to clarify that there was no pressure on him of any kind during the investigation and the district administration had extended all possible cooperation during the probe.

Before Mr. Gupta began his investigation, the Mysuru district police too had tried to identify patient zero. A senior police officer said they studied the travel history of all the positive employees, traced those whom they had met through various means, and obtained their statements, but had not been able to identify the source of infection.

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Printable version | Oct 22, 2020 3:41:45 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/nanjangud-cluster-patient-zero-cannot-be-identified-at-this-juncture/article31495987.ece

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