Mysuru’s Najangud pharma company turns COVID-19 hotspot in Karnataka

Of the 35 cases in Mysuru, 24 related to the pharma company employee and his contacts.

The new numbers come a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi indicated the 21-day lockdown across the country may be extended beyond April 14 | Representative image: PTI file

After Bengaluru, Mysuru district in Karnataka is emerging as the COVID-19 hotspot in Karnataka. Of the 185 positive cases in Karnataka, 63 are from Bengaluru and 35 from Mysuru, as per the Karnataka Health Department data.

Many of the positive cases in Bengaluru were traced to people with travel history. But in the case of Mysuru, the source of infection is not identified even after two weeks.

The cases are spreading through primary and secondary contacts of a person with no travel history or contact history (not come in contact with any COVID-19 suspected patient), who were tested positive on March 26.

On March 26, the health department stated that a man working in the quality assurance section of a Jubilant Lifesciences, a pharmaceutical company in Nanjangudu town, contracted the coronavirus. Ever since, the pharma company’s plant, with nearly 1000 employees, is shut and about 2,400 people are quarantined.

From one case in Nanjangud on March 26, the number rose to 24 in the cluster as of April 8. Most of the infected persons were employees of Jubilant.

The District Commissioner and the health department continued to assert that this is not a case of community transfer.

Of the 35 cases in Mysuru, 24 related to the pharma company employee and his contacts. About 9 related to contacts of Tablighi Jamaat attendees and two individuals who returned from Dubai tested positive.

However, the health officials till date could not trace how the person (patient no. 52) got infected. They were still investigating the source of his infection and suspect that he could have come in contact with healthcare professionals.

Mysore Medical College and Research Institute Dean Dr. C.P. Nanjaraj said the particular employee might have carried the virus for a month. “Patient history of the first employee who tested positive on March 26 says he had reported the illness to a private clinic on February 28. However, he kept quiet after taking basic medications.”

The said patient got admitted to the government hospital on the midnight of March 24 and tested positive two days later.

“The patient is recovering and doing well now. But the person’s traces are found in the neighbouring Mandya district and it’s a worrying sign,” Nanjaraj adds.

When asked about why the source could not be traced, the doctor said the investigating officers (police and health officials) were not willing to go near the patient as they feared they could contract the virus.

Meanwhile, the listed drug firm, Jubilant Life Sciences, after being questioned by the Bombay stock exchange on its failure to inform the investors of the development, the company said, “it did not meet the materiality criteria under the company norms and hence closure of the Nanjangud plant was not disclosed to the Stock Exchanges.”

Related news | COVID-19: Karnataka aims to conduct 80,000 tests in three weeks

Entire Nanjangud under lockdown

The whole of Nanjangud town has been sealed and the entry and exit points are closed, except one for essential and emergency services. Three kilometre buffer zone is created within the town and ASHA (healthcare) workers are roped in by the district administration to go door to door and identify suspected cases.

“Jubilant generic drug factory will remain closed till all the employees of the factory test negative for coronavirus. It will be allowed to function only after we get all the reports,” the DC Abhiram G Sankar told reporters in Mysuru.

It was initially suspected that the packaging material with consignment from China that arrived at Jubilant, could have had some links with the first case in Nanjangud. But the Superintendent of Police CB Ryshyanth, who is leading the investigation denied the reports and said they were still investigating the case.

Meanwhile, in Mysore city, the city corporation took preventive measures by placing disinfection tunnels at the entrance of exhibition ground market in Mysore. Anyone who comes to buy groceries has to pass through the disinfection tunnel before entering the market.

Related news | Opening Karnataka borders to Kerala is to ’embrace death:’ Yediyurappa

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