An employee of the Rail Bhavan tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Monday (May 25), leading to the closure of all offices of the Railways Ministry for the next two days, the second time in less than a fortnight.
“A fourth-grade multitasking staffer who attended office till last Tuesday is the fifth COVID-19 case detected in the building in less than two weeks. Nine of his contacts have been sent to home quarantine till June 2,” officials said.
According to an official, what is of concern is that the multitasking staff is responsible for taking files from one office to another and come in contact with a lot of people throughout the day. These files can go to the chairman, Railway Board or even the railways minister.
The incident comes close on the heels of a senior officer, who had last attended work at the headquarters on Wednesday, tested positive for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on Sunday, in what was the fourth such case in less than a week at the headquarters. At least 14 officials who worked closely with her have been sent to home quarantine.
“Some Officials of Railway Board have recently tested COVID-positive. Accordingly it has been decided to close all Offices at Rail Bhavan on 26th and 27th May, 2020 to carry out intensive sanitization of rooms and common areas,” an order said.
Offices at the fourth floor of Rail Bhavan will remain close till Friday for thorough disinfection, it said.
“During this period, all officers/staff would work from home and are to be available at all times on phone and other electronic means of communication,” the order said, hours after the fifth case came to light.
In case of any requirement for urgent work at office, specific directive would be given to the officials concerned for attending office, according to the order.
The latest cases come after another senior officer, working on the cadre restructuring of the Railway Protection Force Service, had tested positive last Friday. She had last come to work on May 13, the same day a junior RPF staffer tested positive, officials said.
The Railways officer lives at the Commonwealth Games Village apartments in the city, where many senior officers of the railways reside, according to the officials.
A joint secretary-level officer working closely with her was sent to 14-day home quarantine, while some junior staffers were asked to isolate themselves and rejoin office on June 4, the officials said.
Sources said the officer is diabetic and had taken all precautions required to protect herself from coronavirus. However, she only has a mild fever and is under watch at home.
The junior staffer at the RPF office on the fourth floor of Rail Bhavan was the first to be infected with coronavirus in the building. He was diagnosed on May 13. This was followed by another case where a langur handler hired to chase away monkeys around the building had tested positive on May 14.
In the wake of these cases, the Railways had shut down the building for deep sanitisation on May 14 and 15.