Tamil Nadu

Dozens of railway employees test positive for COVID-19

Handling of files said to have been the main reason

Dozens of employees in the Southern Railway zonal headquarters and the Chennai divisional office have tested positive for COVID-19. While two employees died of the disease in the last one week, many others are either in hospitals or undergoing home quarantine. The handling of files is suspected to have been the main factor behind the spread of the virus, railway sources said on Monday.

In May alone, 71 employees, a majority of whom were security personnel of the Railway Protection Force (RPF), tested positive for COVID-19 in the Chennai division. Health officials have lifted samples from the family members of these employees, and the test results are awaited. While many patients were admitted to the Railway Hospital or referred to the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital, some chose to remain quarantined at home, sources said. “Some senior officers and staff members at the Southern Railway headquarters have also tested positive. Despite the fact that the zonal headquarters and the Chennai divisional office are located in close proximity to the RGGGH, a designated COVID-19 hospital, the offices began functioning initially with 33% staff and later 50%, though there were only a few freight and Shramik Special trains running,” a senior railway official said.

With the pandemic spreading fast in Chennai and dozens of employees getting infected, the General Manager’s office on Monday told employees that it was not mandatory to come to work, and that they could work from home as well. “Though safety protocols like physical distancing, wearing of masks and disinfection of infection-prone areas are being followed, the handling of files by officers/staff is suspected to be one of the reasons for the spread [of the virus],” an official said, requesting anonymity.

On the death of two railway employees, the official said they had tested positive, and quoted hospital sources as saying that they had succumbed to co-morbid conditions. All India Railwaymen Federation working president N. Kanniah said he took up the issue of employees’ safety with the General Manager, following which a circular was issued allowing those above the age of 55 and those suffering co-morbid conditions to work from home.The General Manager had also agreed to a request by AIRF to have a tie-up with the King Institute, Chennai, for testing samples taken from employees at the Egmore Health Unit, since the Perambur Railway Hospital was crowded. At the Integral Coach Factory, 50% staff were working in the administration wing while 25% were deployed in the factory side, as per guidelines.

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Printable version | Jul 10, 2020 8:09:35 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/dozens-of-railway-employees-test-positive-for-covid-19/article31726551.ece

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