No trace of virus in imported raw material

The raw material imported from China tested negative for coronavirus at the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune

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Medicine
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Jubilant Life Sciences Ltd, which temporarily suspended operations at its Mysuru pharmaceutical plant last month, after a worker tested positive for coronavirus, has said no trace of the virus has been found in the imported raw material sampled from the facility.

It is also following all protocols for the prevention of Covid-19, in addition to taking welfare measures for employees and the community, while sharing information with authorities. The raw material imported from China tested negative for coronavirus at the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune, Jubilant said.

The person, who had tested positive in March, had not travelled to China or to any other country in the previous six months, it added. On March 11, Jubilant had clarified that the patient, who was treated at a government hospital, had been discharged on recovery.

The Mysuru factory produces azithromycin dihydrate and azithromycin monohydrate, which are key ingredients for drugs used in treating respiratory tract infections, including coronavirus. Drug makers are exempt from the lockdown, but Jubilant suspended operations temporarily as a precautionary measure and after it was advised by local authorities. All its personnel were also put under self-quarantine.

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“All evidence and known scientific facts published by reputed global organisations, available so far, indicates that the virus does not survive for more than 72 hours on any surface. The raw materials sampled from the Nanjangud facility had taken more than three weeks of transit to reach the plant by sea route and no virus can survive this long on any surface,” it said.

The New England Journal of Medicine had on March 17 said that coronavirus cannot survive for more than 72 hours on any surface. It is extremely unlikely that the infection could have taken place from items imported from infected countries, going by current evidence, said Dr Abdul Gaffur, infectious diseases specialist, Apollo Hospital, Chennai.

As on Sunday, tests for Covid-19 were conducted on 70% of the factory’s 1,500 employees. Of this, 3% have tested positive, about 35% have tested negative and results were awaited for the remaining cases, said a company executive. The company has started supplying hand sanitizers to central and state governments, free of cost. Senior management is taking stock of every employee’s well-being on a daily basis, the company said.

“The company values the support it has received from all levels of government authorities, including the district administration, police, public health department and the community around its facility. Jubilant is constantly communicating and working with them to mitigate the situation arising out of Covid-19,” the company added.

(Srishti Choudhary contributed to this report.)