Now, Congress to take up case of COVID-19 outbreak at pharmaceutical in Nanjangud

After investigations by police, health officials and senior IAS officer Harsh Gupta to identify the source of COVID-19 outbreak among employees of Jubilant pharmaceutical company in Nanjangud near here came to a naught, paving the way for the reopening of the plant, the Congress party on Tuesday accused the State government of succumbing to pressure from BJP leaders in Delhi and sought a CBI probe into the matter.

Addressing a press conference here, former MP R. Dhruvanarayan sought an impartial probe while suspecting the Centre as well as the State government of adopting double standards in dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks. “When you can book a police case against Tablighi Jamaat in Delhi, why was no case booked here,” he said.

Indicating that the Congress will take up the issue seriously, Mr. Dhruvanarayan said the Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Siddaramaiah has given a notice to raise the issue in the next session of the State Legislature.

Though he made it clear that he was not against the reopening of the factory, which incidentally has entered into an agreement with U.S.-based bio-pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences to manufacture and sell its investigational drug remdesivir, considered to be a potential helpful in COVID-19 cases, Mr. Dhruvanarayan said the people had a right to know how COVID-19 broke out among the employees of the plant before spreading to many others in the company and their contacts, accounting for 74 of the 91 cases in Mysuru so far.

He referred to claims made by BJP MLA representing Nanjangud Assembly segment Harshavardhan publicly that the inquiry into the source of infection had come under pressure, Mr. Dhruvanarayan said the State government had succumbed to the incentives offered by the company.

Meanwhile, Mr. Harshavardhan said the company has been permitted to reopen after it agreed to distribute 50,000 grocery kits and adopt 10 villages.

Though the MLA indicated that the company would resume operations by the end of this month, sources in the Industries Department said the company representatives had only approached the officials seeking to know formalities to be completed before reopening the plant, but had not given the date on which the operations would resume.

The Mysuru district police officials, meanwhile, said the investigations into the source of infection were all but over. However, the health and police officials indicated three probabilities of COVID-19 outbreak at Jubilant pharmaceutical company. They include the visit in March first week by management representatives from Pune and Delhi, one of whom showed symptoms of COVID-19 as noted in company records, besides company employees visiting Thanisandra in Bengaluru for a religious gathering and to Kerala in February, besides the employees from the plant visiting different places in the country including Delhi.

While Harsh Gupta saw no reason in continuing the probe to identify the source of infection to contain the spread when 74 persons connected to the company had already contracted the disease, the Mysuru district police officials feel that the patient zero, whoever it might be, would not have spread the infection deliberately. For, many positive cases of COVID-19 show no symptoms at all.

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