As per the latest government sources, offices resuming after an extended nation-wide lockdown may continue to operate and not be faced with a complete shutdown if a Coronavirus (COVID-19) case is found on their premises, even as India looks at rebooting its economy while fighting the pandemic.
An official familiar with the protocol, claiming anonymity, said, "The office building will not be sealed or declared a containment zone. Instead, the authorities will quarantine the contacts of Covid-positive person and disinfect the floor or area, depending upon the advice of local authorities."
Another official said, "The district magistrate (DM) will act as per the advice of health experts, but there are no instructions to seal the building for three months."
On the other hand, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) alongside the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), are looking at containment and mitigation measures such as pool testing in combating the pandemic.
Speaking of the same, K Srinath Reddy, President, Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), told The Economic Times, "Now that we are looking at availability of more antigen kits, we may be able to do pool testing. This will be able to decide which parts of the building, an office complex or a residential complex need to be sealed and where others shown to be uninfected can continue to function."
Meanwhile, the employers have been advised to conduct business with half the staff strength and adhere to guidelines on social distancing, hygiene and sanitation at any given time.
According to the standard operating procedure (SOP) issued by MoHFW, "If feeling unwell, the employee should immediately leave the workplace and inform his reporting authority and home quarantine for the rest of period. Employees who are in the high risk zones like older and pregnant women should not be exposed in any front line work, requiring direct contacts."
The government is also relying on its Aarogya Setu app, as per one of officials, who said, "The app comes into play here. This will help in contact tracing and only those who are in close contact can be asked to self-quarantine. The rest can continue to work."