CHENNAI: The Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, which is about 100 km from Chennai, finds no respite from coronavirus. The space centre reported 47 fresh Covid-19 cases on Wednesday taking the tally to over 100 in just the last four days.
Considering the gravity of the situation, the Nellore district administration has deployed a 'Sanjeevini' bus at the space centre to beef-up Covid-19 testing. The Andhra Pradesh government has converted the APSRTC Garuda AC buses into testing facilities.
Apart from RT-PCR tests being conducted by the administration, rapid Antigen tests are being conducted by district authorities through Sanjeevini. While RT-PCR tests have diagnosed 33 fresh cases, 14 persons found positive through antigen tests on Wednesday.
Nellore district collector KVN Chakradhar Babu told The New Indian Express that there was nothing to panic. "Through Sanjeevini, we have screened over 600 people at Shar in the last three days, of which 61 turned positive. The tests are still in progress. Most of them are asymptomatic. They are kept in isolation and monitored within the Sriharikota rocket launch station in Shar. I am in constant touch with the Shar co-ordinator and whatever support they need, the district administration is ready to provide."
Over concerns of bed shortage in Nellore that was voiced by Shar authorities, Babu said previously only two Covid-19 hospitals were operational, but as on date, "we are having 14 Covid-19 hospitals with sufficient ICU, non-ICU beds. Ventilators and oxygen support are stocked-up in adequate quantities to meet the requirement."
Despite an unprecedented rise in Covid cases, Shar authorities have chosen to keep the operations going. Still, 50% of staff are attending duties on a roster basis.
Sources told Express that ISRO was planning to launch at least two launches by end of this year and for this reason, it was critical to carry out operation and maintenance works at Sriharikota. The collector also confirmed that ISRO was planning for a couple of launches.