CHENNAI: The prestigious Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) in Sriharikota has become the latest casualty of the second Covid wave that has wreaked havoc across the country.
As per the conservative estimate, a whopping 350 fresh cases are reported in Sriharikota and at least two people have succumbed to the infection.
Officials sources in SDSC told The New Indian Express that the numbers started swirling from mid-April, which coincided with the Tirupati Lok Sabha constituency byelection. The SDSC employees were also given poll duties as observers.
On average, 30-40 Covid positive cases are being reported daily forcing the authorities to restrict the operations in the space centre. Sources said a rotation system was introduced to carry out works with 50% of staff and the contract employees were stopped from attending duties.
When contacted, Nellore district collector KVN Chakradhar Badu confirmed to Express that Covid cases were on the rise inside Sriharikota township, but said the situation was under control.
"We are providing all the support needed. We have supplied 1,100 doses of vaccine for SDSC employees and are administered by our doctors' team. There is a requirement for another 900 doses which will also be arranged shortly. The district administration is fully geared up to meet any requirement that arises," Babu said.
On a personal note, SDSC director A Rajarajan has appealed to all employees and their family members to strictly follow the Covid protocol. "SDSC is well prepared. The analysis of the recent cases brought clear insights that the persons with travel history had greater susceptibility to infection and this coupled with our tiredness in following Covid appropriate behavior at all times."
Hospital infrastructure augmented
Rajarajan said SDSC was well equipped with organised tracing strategies, testing laboratories, and treatment with critical lifesaving drugs. "Our clinical labs are equipped to test and declare the results of samples on the same day.
This will enable the isolation of contacted personnel and restrain the spread of the virus. The hospital infrastructure is augmented both at SDSC and Satish Dhawan Memorial Hospital in Sullurpet to treat the mild to moderate Covid patients. Isolation wards and critical care ventilator beds are identified. We have increased the beds after reviewing the situation."
The director said Narmada guest house is declared as Covid care centre and necessary measures are taken to have adequate oxygen. "Vaccination is the only course available today to reduce the impact of the pandemic. This is very much evident from the fact that most of our frontline workers like hospital staff, safai karmacharis and CISF personnel who have completed the two doses of vaccine are not affected so far. SDSC management is closely working with State authorities and vaccine manufacturers to inoculate all the eligible employees and residents on a priority basis."