COIMBATORE: Even as the health department is closely monitoring the gold jewellery industry after several people associated with it in Coimbatore were tested positive, a renowned virologist T Jacob John said that the yellow metal is not to be blamed.
"The virus may be getting transmitted because of the proximity of employees in workplaces. Usage of air-conditioners in a store can recirculate the virus, he said.
Referring to several studies, PSG Institute of Medical Sciences and Research (PSG IMS&R) Assistant Professor Arun Padmanandan said the coronavirus can survive for two to nine days on plastic, metal, and stainless steel.
"On copper, it lasts up to four hours, while on cardboard, it can live up to less than 24 hours," the professor said, adding that the reason for the increase in cases in the gold industry is mainly based on the work environment.
It may be noted that around 58 employees of a leading jewellery store on 100 feet road here were recently tested positive. Similarly, 48 staff of another jewellery outlet on Cross-Cut Road were infected, while a whopping 250 persons working in small-scale gold smithies in Selvapuram were recently infected. An 80-year-old owner of a jewellery showroom succumbed to the infection last week, according to sources.
The infections triggered a debate on whether the yellow metal is acting as a carrier of the virus.
A higher official in the health department said, "Customers visiting a jewellery outlet may carry the same metal that was previously handled by others."
The official advised customers not to stay in an outlet for more than 30 minutes.
Secretary of Coimbatore Jewellery Manufacturers Association R Ellappan alleged that the surge in Covid cases could be because of the small-scale smithies located in densely populated areas. He said, "Most of the showrooms sanitise the premises in intervals by deputing a separate team."