Medical staff takes the temperature of a migrant entering a shelter home in Lucknow. (Express photo by Vishal Srivastav)
The spread of coronavirus from a Noida company kept the health officials in UP on their toes as five more persons in Bareilly indirectly linked to the fire safety firm tested positive on Tuesday. Two more persons — one in Noida and other in Ghaziabad — also tested positive for COVID-19, taking the total number of cases in the state to 103.
All the five new cases in Bareilly are family members of a 34-year-old employee of the Noida firm who had tested positive two days ago. The five are his wife, parents, a brother and a sister, who were kept in isolation since Sunday. The two-year-old son of the man, who has also been kept in isolation, however, tested negative for coronavirus, said Bareilly Chief Medical Officer Vineet Kumar Shukla.
Till now, at least 30 people infected with the virus are directly or indirectly inked to the same Noida firm in Sector 135 that was visited by a British national for an audit earlier this month — a fact that the firm allegedly hid. Police have also booked the company under sections of the IPC and Epidemic Diseases Act for “spreading the disease”.
The fire safety firm at the epicenter of the rising number of cases in Gautam Budh Nagar district, particularly Noida, was sealed by administrative officials on Tuesday. At least 30 people, 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 had allegedly hid from the authorities. The British national is alleged to be the source of the infection.
The MD of the company had also travelled 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 Buddh 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, at least 30 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.
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.
Noida continues to be the hotspot of the viral outbreak with 39 of the total 103 cases. Meerut is another hotspot with 19 cases that were reported in the last four days.
Among the other confirmed cases so far, 11 are from Agra, nine from Lucknow, eight from Ghaziabad, two each from Pilibhit and Varanasi and one each from Lakhimpur Kheri, Kanpur, Moradabad, Shamli, Jaunpur, Baghpat, and Bulandshahr.
Out of the total 103 confirmed cases, only 25 have foreign travel history, while the rest 78 are their contacts. Out of those 25 with foreign travel history, eight had returned from the Gulf countries.
So far, 17 people have recovered and discharged from the hospital – eight from Agra, six from Noida, two from Ghaziabad and one from Lucknow.
Meanwhile, the condition of a 73-year-old woman in Lucknow, who had tested positive on Monday, turned critical and was shifted to the intensive care unit (ICU) of a hospital here. She is the mother-in-law of a Canada-based NRI doctor, who was discharged from the hospital after recovery on March 21.
After her recovery, samples of her family members were taken and they were all found to be negative. On March 28, the sample of her mother-in-law was taken after she developed some symptoms and she tested positive. Another contact of the doctor is also admitted at the KGMU and is undergoing treatment.
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