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SBI closes 3 branches in Mumbai, Thane after spike in COVID cases among staff

The nation’s largest lender, State Bank of India, has temporarily closed three branches — two in Mumbai and one in adjoining Thane — after eight staff tested positive for COVID-19, bank employees said.

The bank’s main branch in Thane was shuttered last week after seven of the 25 staff were found COVID-19 positive, according to a senior bank employee.

A cash officer at the local cheque processing cell (LCPC), also known as the clearing department, in Jogeshwari (East) was found COVID-19 positive, leading to temporary closure of the branch early last week, said another employee.

As a precautionary measure, the bank temporarily stopped operations at its LCPC located in Andheri, after a gardener working there was founded to be infected with the virus, the employee said.

When contacted, the SBI said, “Our quick response team headed by a general manager is continuously monitoring the situation in the entire country and due protocol is followed in case of any infection. Many of our staff members, who got infected, have recovered and are contributing to the functioning of the bank in these trying times.”

Over the past few days, three SBI employees — Sandu Borade of the Churchgate branch; Anirban Datta of the Belapur CBD branch; and Ramesh Rane of the Ghatkopar branch — were lost to the coronavirus infection.

On the death of these staffers, the SBI statement said, “A few unfortunate deaths have happened and we are deeply saddened by the incidents. The compensation (including COVID-19 compensation amount) is paid as per the established rules of the bank.”

“Safety protocol is complied with and all possible support is provided. We salute our employees who are contributing to the nation in these trying times,” the statement said.

Another SBI employee said despite such a high number of cases being detected, the bank management is asking them to come in full strength and branches are back to normal operations.

A third employee said that the mortgage divisional headquarters in Thane is carrying out “full documentation” and let applicants visit the branch where no physical distancing is possible because of the large number of applicants, but putting the lives of bankers at risk.

“Working with the PPE kit (given to us by the bank) on is practically not possible,” the staffer cited above told PTI.

The employee stated that they are being asked to report only on alternate days and forced to apply for casual leave (CLs) on the rest.

“We are asked to apply for CL on days we are not going to the branch, or for working on alternate days,” he said, adding, “we are not even given commuting allowance or pick-up and drop since the lockdown was lifted on June 1”.

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Printable version | Jul 2, 2020 10:29:19 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/sbi-closes-3-branches-in-mumbai-thane-after-spike-in-covid-cases-among-staff/article31829324.ece

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