Offices evacuated at IT Park as panic over coronavirus grips Hyderabad

The companies have asked their employees to leave and work from home to prevent the spread of the virus

COVID-19, Coronavirus, Maharashtra, Pune, Dubai
The Tamil Nadu government has implemented a slew of measures to prevent the spread of the virus. Photo: PTI

Panic has gripped the IT hub in Hyderabad with offices in one of the technology parks being evacuated on Wednesday (March 4) following two suspected cases of coronavirus even as the Telangana government announced a slew of measures, including the creation of a ₹100 crore fund, to check the spread of the deadly virus.

Scores of techies and other employees rushed out of their building in Raheja Mindspace, a technology park located in the heart of the city’s IT hub, after they were asked to vacate the premises. The companies, housed in two other blocks inside the campus, have also asked their employees to leave and work from home.

The officials of the health department said that two persons showed “borderline symptoms” of COVID-19 and their samples have been sent to the National Institute of Virology, Pune, for further testing and the report is expected tomorrow.

One of the persons with suspected coronavirus symptoms works with a Dutch multinational company DSM located at Raheja Mindspace.

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“The colleague has self-quarantined, correctly following DSM guidelines and protocols, and notified us and the relevant health authorities. We are checking in on the colleague and family regularly to make sure everyone is okay. The colleague has mild symptoms and is in good spirits.

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“As a precautionary measure, we have told all other employees based at the same site to work from home till further notice. Our facilities will also undergo thorough disinfection so that they can reopen again safely,” the company said in a statement.

The tech park has 20 buildings housing software and other technology companies.

According to officials, out of 47 people who have been screened for coronavirus so far, 45 have tested negative. They have been discharged and advised strict home quarantine for 14 days.

Two other patients have been kept in isolation. Of them, one has a travel history to Italy and the second had come in contact with the Bengaluru techie who was infected. Both the patients are being kept in isolation at Gandhi Hospital.

Meanwhile, the condition of a 24-year-old software engineer, who tested positive for the virus and is undergoing treatment at an isolation ward in a state-run hospital here, is stable. The patient, who works for an IT company in Bengaluru, had contracted the infection while on an official visit to Dubai last month.

Rs 100 crore fund

Meanwhile, the state government has announced a special ₹100 crore fund to upgrade health infrastructure as part of measures to tackle the coronavirus threat.

About 3,000 isolation beds are being allotted to treat the cases of infection, the state health minister E Rajender said.

Two dozen senior pulmonologists working with government hospitals have been asked to stand by to exclusively work for COVID-19 containment activities. Apart from private hospitals, the retired doctors and nursing staff are being approached to provide assistance in the event of a spike in coronavirus cases.

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A 24-hour helpline was activated on Wednesday to enable people to approach the authorities for any assistance. The government has drawn up plans to roll out public awareness campaigns in all the districts. As part of these efforts, billboards, flexes and advertisements in televisions are being readied and will be rolled out in the coming days.

The health officials are confident that the virus would not spread because of the rising temperature and less humidity this summer. “We will focus on creating awareness for one week to 10 days. There is no need for panic,” Rajender said.

Massive screening

Meanwhile, the authorities have identified about 80 people who may have come in close contact with the Bengaluru techie in the last ten days. Of them, 27 are passengers who travelled with him in the bus from Bangalore to Hyderabad, and 20 are medical staff at Apollo hospitals, Secunderabad, where he underwent treatment for fever.

This also includes members of his extended family.

All 80 members have been advised to get admitted in the isolation ward of Gandhi Hospitals and undergo all tests as a precautionary measure, the minister said.

The software engineer, who works for a multinational in Bengaluru, went to Dubai on February 15 on an official assignment, where he reportedly worked together with other techies from Hong Kong.

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After spending five days in Dubai, the techie landed in Bengaluru on February 20. He was already suffering from cold and fever but the screening at the airport gave him the go-ahead.

After returning to Bangalore, he is said to have attended office for a day. About 24 of his colleagues who interacted with him during this period have subsequently been quarantined and are being screened.

Soon after coming to Hyderabad where his parents live, the techie went to Apollo Hospitals, Secunderabad, for treatment as an outpatient. The treatment continued till February 27.

When there was no respite from the symptoms, he was admitted to Apollo Hospitals on suspicion of swine flu on February 27 and was treated as an inpatient in an exclusive ward for three days. He tested negative for Swine Flu, but the symptoms persisted.

He was then referred to Gandhi Hospitals on March 1, where he was quarantined immediately. He has been undergoing treatment at the exclusive Coronavirus ward. “His condition is stable,” Gandhi hospital superintendent Dr Sravan said.

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