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‘Unlock 0.1’ leads to spike in COVID-19 cases among Surat’s diamond workers



The increasing number of COVID-19 cases among Surat’s diamond industry workers has made the authorities sit up. A meeting has been convened on Monday to chalk out an action plan to control the spread of the virus.

Surat is the diamond capital of the country, and has an estimated annual turnover of Rs 1,48,000 crore. The industry has about 13 lakh workers.

Talking to THE WEEK, Surat Municipal Commissioner Banchhanidhi Pani confirmed that more than 70 diamond industry workers tested positive for the disease on Sunday. An equal number of cases was reported on Saturday as well, creating panic among the authorities.

Those infected have been admitted to Surat’s Civil Hospital.

Ever since the diamond and textile industry opened up in ‘Unlock 1.0’ phase, cases are being reported from both these sectors.

Dinesh Navadia, chairman of Gujarat unit of Gem Jewelry Export Promotion Council, said industry owners will be requested on Monday to voluntary close down for about a week to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Pani said the issue would be taken up for discussion. He, however, was of the opinion that a lockdown for a week or 10 days won’t be the solution as the cases would rise again when the industries reopen.

The municipal commissioner said instead, a way out can be found going by the staggered manner of opening and added that how this would be implemented will be discussed during the meeting.

Sources said it was also reported that some of the workers come to work even when they were unwell. The problem is worsened due to air conditioned rooms and people having food in the common dining areas. Majority of companies in the diamond industry provide free food to their workers.

According to estimates, out of around 13 lakh workers, about 1.50 lakh workers reported for duty.

Meanwhile, Gujarat reported 580 new cases in the last 24 hours that ended at 5pm on Sunday. With 25 persons succumbing to the deadly virus, the death toll in Gujarat has gone up to 1,664.


Courtesy: The week



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