Industries in Manesar may have to get all their employees tested
Despite being notified as a large outbreak region (LOR) on July 15, emerging Covid-19 clusters in the industrial belt of Manesar have set the alarm bells ringing for the health department and the district administration alike.
Labour and health department officials said the thrust is upon ramping up the testing in those areas where workers live. A proposal has also been floated that every industry will have to get its workers tested through antigen kits, the cost of which will be borne by the employer.
According to the health department, in July, more than 100 Covid-19 cases have been reported from Manesar. Cases have been reported in under three Primary Health Centres - Manesar, Bhangrola and Kasan. The health department did not share the total number of cases reported since the industries have been allowed to resume in the region.
A meeting in this regard was held on Wednesday among officials of the district administration, the labour department, the health department and the industrial association of the region. “The thrust is going to be on increasing the testing in the area. Companies have been asked to get their employees tested on their own by paying for the antigen test cost. But this is not compulsory. The health department is also holding testing camps in the area. The overall focus is on increasing the testing,” said Dinesh Kumar, deputy labour commissioner, Manesar.
Confirming the move, Dr Virender Yadav, chief medical officer(CMO) said the proposal is yet to finalised. For this, the notification is likely to be issued by the district administration, he said.
The industry association, on the other hand, has expressed disapproval for the proposal to get all the employees tested. “There are more than four lakh workers in Manesar. Testing each one of them is nearly impossible. Each antigen kit costs almost ₹510 and the test is valid for only two weeks. Getting employees tested twice a month is not feasible. It will be an added cost,” said Manmohan Gaind, general secretary, Manesar Industries Welfare Association. He said that protocols issued by Union ministry of home affairs to run industries with appropriate social distancing measures are sufficient enough.
Gaind, who has a unit of home furnishing in Manesar said that any worker who has cough and cold or any Influenza Like Illness (ILI) are not kept with other employees. It is only after three days the worker is allowed to resume work only after getting the Covid-19 test.
The health department has also been conducting rapid antigen testing camps in areas like Bhangrola, Kasan and Aliyar where most of the industrial workers live. “Tests are being conducted in several pockets of Manesar. In Bhangrola alone, more than 47 coronavirus cases were detected in July. The target is to aggressively conduct the antigen testing of symptomatic and high-risk cases with ILI and Severe Acute Respiratory Illness (SARI) in these areas,” said Yadav, mentioning that a plan is being prepared. According to medical officers in three PHCs, over 30 testing camps have been organised in each of them.
To figure out the prevalence of infection in industrial pockets, Yadav said that they will have to start with a sample size to decipher the positivity rate of a particular area. “Pockets have to be identified where the test positivity rate is around 5-10% to cut the chain of coronavirus transmission. To accelerate the process, a proposal has been floated with the administration to set up testing booth in the Haryana State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation (HSIIDC) building.”
Deputy chief minister Dushyant Chautala, who was present in the city on Thursday to hold meetings on labour issues, was asked about industrial areas in Gurugram emerging as Covid-19 clusters. He said, “Due to Covid-19, industries were shut in the last week of March and in April. But they could not remain closed for a long time as economy had to be restarted. Lockdown cannot be imposed if industries are to run to maintain the demand and supply. To tackle the Covid-19, the deputy commissioner is authorised to designate containment areas as he deems fit.”