Pharma firm: Inquiry officer seeks guidance from govt. over probe into source of infection

The probe into the source of COVID-19 infection among employees of the pharmaceutical company in Nanjangud, which could not be unravelled by the police and health officials in Mysuru, now appears to be facing another hurdle with the Inquiry Officer writing to the State government seeking guidance from the Health Department.

The State government had ordered an investigation in the matter last Friday and asked senior IAS officer Harsh Gupta, who has been designated as the nodal officer for COVID-19 containment in Mysuru district, to submit a report in a week. With days left for the deadline, Mr. Gupta is yet to hear from the government on the “issues” that he had raised with regard to the investigation.

Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Gupta, however, refused to divulge the nature of “guidance” he had sought and the issues he had raised in his communication with the government. “It is up to the government to make the details public,” he said.

The source of infection among the employees of Jubilant pharmaceutical company had become a subject of widespread speculation and the probe had attracted much curiosity. Out of the 89 people testing positive in Mysuru, persons connected to the company accounted for 73 of them.

Mr. Gupta’s move to seek guidance comes after an investigation by the Mysuru district police and health officials made little headway.

Though no FIR has been lodged, the Police Department had studied the travel history of the positive employees and traced their contacts through various means, including interrogation and call records. Almost all the company’s employees, estimated to be around 1,300, and their contacts had been quarantined.

While the police said the officials from the Health Department were better trained to identify the source of infection, a Health Department official, however, was of the opinion that oral interrogation of the positive persons was also key to identifying the source of infection.

Sources in the government pointed out that such an investigation was a “technical matter” requiring “expertise”. The inquiry officer should be assisted by a microbiologist or virologist from the Health Department, besides oral interrogation of the employees.

Meanwhile, Harshavardhan, BJP MLA representing Nanjangud Assembly constituency, feared that the firmwas planning to resume operations by citing that it manufactures Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients needed to fight COVID-19. He feared that reopening it without identifying the source of infection would imperil the lives of people in Nanjangud.

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Printable version | May 28, 2020 5:43:16 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/pharma-firm-inquiry-officer-seeks-guidance-from-govt-over-probe-into-source-of-infection/article31457265.ece

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