Bengaluru: When Karnataka's Patient 52 or P52 tested positive for Covid-19, it left the authorities puzzled. Neither did the patient have any travel history abroad nor was he a primary or secondary contact of a coronavirus patient.
P52, however, worked at the Jubilant Life Sciences' Nanjangud plant in Mysore. The pharma company manufactures API or active pharma ingredients at this plant and this employee worked in the quality assurance team. After testing positive on March 26, according to the health department bulletin, seven of his primary contacts were traced and placed under home quarantine.
Subsequently, on March 29, five other employees of Jubilant Life Sciences tested positive. Four others tested positive on March 30, and two new cases with links to P52 came to light on March 31. The new cases, however, had travel history to Dubai. The company has since temporarily suspended all operations at its plant and placed more than 1,000 employees under self-quarantine.
In a statement put out by the pharma company, it acknowledged that many of its employees had contracted the infection and all necessary precautionary measures as well as sanitisation of the entire plant area was being carried out.
"We were again informed that some more persons from our facility have tested positive. As a precautionary measure, the plant operations have been temporarily suspended & all the personnel are under self-quarantine. We have also created an online channel of communication with the employees to guide them or answer any of their queries. The entire plant area is being sanitised again,” the statement read.
While the health department is regularly engaging in contact-tracing to ensure that this cluster outbreak of Covid-19 is contained, the department still hasn’t identified the source of the infection. "The company imports material from China. We have now tested some of the packaging material of the consignments that had arrived from there to check if they were contaminated," said Jawaid Akthar, the state health Secretary.
This could perhaps be the first instance of a cluster outbreak in Karnataka. "All of Nanjangud taluk has been buffered and only essential services such as groceries and medicines are being made available," district health officer Dr Venkatesh told CNBC TV18.