Noida company hid information on foreigner visit: Linked to 23 coronavirus cases, firm is sealed

Amil Bhatnagar
Linked to 23 cases, firm is sealed

Food packets being distributed to construction workers in Noida’s Sector 75.
(Express photo by Abhinav Saha)

A fire safety firm at the epicentre of the rising number of cases in Gautam Budh Nagar district, particularly Noida, was sealed by administrative officials on Tuesday. More than 23 persons, including 16 employees of the firm and others who came in contact with them, have tested positive for coronavirus so far.

According to officials, a British national had visited the firm for an audit between March 15 and 19 — a fact the firm hid from authorities. The British national is alleged to be the source of the infection.

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The MD of the company had also traveled to the UK in the first week of March and has tested positive along with his wife. “The premises of the firm in Sector 135 have been sealed to prevent further spread of the disease. The area has been sanitised, and no one is allowed to enter or use the establishment until further notice. Anyone found in violation will be booked,” said Prasun Dwivedi, Divisional Magistrate, Gautam Budh Nagar.

According to officials, the company was founded 25 years ago and specialises in providing fire equipment such as extinguishers to houses and commercial set-ups. The company’s clients include the embassies of Ireland and UAE, buildings in Delhi University, BHEL and Bharat Petroleum. The company also has operations abroad, an official said.

It was two weeks ago when the company’s MD tested positive. After the Health Department began tracing his contacts, it came to light that an audit conducted by the British national was not conveyed to the authorities. Since then, more than 20 people across four districts have been found positive. The administration has prepared a list of 160 employees who are being screened. Until Monday evening, 87 contacts of the employees were under quarantine, with the number set to rise, an official said.

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The Health Department’s handling of the cases connected to the firm came under heavy fire from Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Monday. A team from Lucknow that visited the district had raised technical objections on the Health Department’s contact tracing efforts. After a heated discussion between the CM and officials, Noida District Magistrate B N Singh wrote to the administration that he did not wish to continue in the post. Late Monday evening, Singh was transferred to Lucknow, and a departmental enquiry was set up against him.

Former Prayagraj DM Suhas LY took charge as Gautam Budh Nagar DM early Tuesday morning. He held several meetings during the day and assessed the coronavirus situation in the district.

Until Tuesday evening, the number of cases in the district had risen to 39, with one fresh case reported during the day.