Tamil Nadu

30 staff of Hosur-based pharma company test COVID-19 positive

Image for representation purpose only.

Image for representation purpose only.   | Photo Credit: Reuters

‘We were not informed about manager testing positive’

A leading pharma manufacturer Micro Labs Limited has emerged as a ‘mini COVID cluster’ in Hosur with as many as 30 employees across production blocks testing positive for COVID-19. Incidentally, the company has become the single largest contributor to the COVID-19 numbers in Krishnagiri district in less than a week.

A manager at the quality control block in Unit 3 of the company’s production facility had first tested positive last week. The company allegedly brought 50 of its employees from Bengaluru in the company bus with some claiming that physical distancing norms were not adhered to.

“I was forced to take a COVID-19 test, before joining work after relaxations in the lockdown. Now, one month into work, I have been infected because of the negligence of the company,” alleged an employee in the quality control block that has reported over 26 cases.

Employees alleged that they were not informed that the manager had tested positive for COVID-19. Instead they learnt about it only through random messages on WhatsApp groups of other companies. “I got myself self-tested upon seeing the message and I turned positive. I got reprimanded by the reporting head for self-testing instead of just staying at home quarantine for the infection to ebb down,” claimed a mid-level employee.

In another case, a manager from the company was forced to go for testing by a local residents' association.

According to another employee, who was in the lab with eight others of whom, four were infected, her attempt to get self-tested had failed. “I went to the COVID-19 swab collection centre at Seetharam Nagar, because I was among the primary contacts. First time, I was asked to get a letter from the company doctor. Then, when I went back with the letter, I was asked to go into home quarantine,” she told The Hindu.

For a bulk of the workforce living in one or two bedroom houses, home quarantine without testing was exposing the entire family, primarily elders, to an infection. With no alarm sounded by the company with the first of infections, secondary infections have also commenced. Among the secondary infections include a cook of a staff family in the COVID ward in Hosur’s ESI hospital.

While the quality control block was sealed on Friday last, inter-block movement was present, alleged employees. On Tuesday, a laundry person, a tablet compression machine and a packing machine operator were infected.

It was proposed to close down the units, but there were objections by the company stating that the chemical chain, refrigeration needed maintenance, said an official. Micro Labs is also a producer of hydroxychloroquine tablets and paracetamol, the official said.

When contacted, Krishnagiri Collector S. Prabhakar said, he received some messages on social media. “There is no special treatment to the company engaged in tablet production. The solution is not to seal the company, but to find a positive outcome. I have asked the Commissioner, BMO and the RDO to inspect the company once again and verify,” he said. The Hindu contacted Prem Kumar, head of Unit 3, Micro Labs, for comments but he disconnected the phone.

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Printable version | Jul 6, 2020 9:28:34 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/30-staff-of-hosur-based-pharma-company-test-covid-19-positive/article31958477.ece

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