H1N1 cases in Bengaluru add to virus fears

Last Updated 07 March 2020, 11:39 IST

At a time when panic over coronavirus is spreading faster than the outbreak, H1N1 infections at two major companies in Bengaluru have caused more anxiety among the IT sector, which is busy fighting misinformation.

Sources said two positive cases of H1N1 (swine flu) were detected at the city office of American e-commerce giant Amazon. The office location of the employees was not mentioned. “As a precautionary measure, Amazon is sanitising the floor and offices where they were working. All who came in contact with the patients have been informed. There is no shutdown of operations in any of Amazon’s workspaces,” sources said.

A swine flu case was reported on Wednesday at Mercedes Benz Research and Development India on their Brigade Tech Gardens Campus, Whitefield. The management evacuated and sanitised the floor where the employee was working and shut it for two days. Two more rounds of sanitisation will be carried out on Saturday and Sunday. The firm has three offices in the city with around 10,000 people.

A company spokesperson said the office premises in Brigade Tech Gardens underwent extensive sanitisation exercise following a case of (swine) flu.

Meanwhile, the spike in the number of people working from home due to Covid-19 fears have jammed office networks.

Cerner India asked its employees to work from home after the company was “made aware that an associate in Manyata Tech Park had flu-like symptoms”. The associate had come from a Level 3 (Covid-19 infection risk) country.

“Cerner is taking necessary precautions to help support a safe work and health environment. Cerner associates working out of its G3 building in Manyata Tech Park have been advised to work from home until EOB March 6. We were also notified about a similar sanitisation activity on our Global Tech Park campus by other tenants and as a precautionary measure, Cerner floors in Towers A and B were also disinfected on March 4,” a company spokesperson said.

Employees of two companies who spoke to DH said social media messages were fuelling tension. Some firms conducted an internal survey among employees in crucial positions to understand their preparedness to work from home.

“The virtual private networks of some companies have been jammed due to the sudden spike in the number of people working from home. Since they did not foresee this situation, the companies maintained moderate servers to allow a handful of people to work from home or remote locations,” an employee of a tech major in Marathahalli said.

In an effort to contain panic, BBMP Commissioner Anil Kumar on Friday held a meeting with IT companies at the Intel campus to brief them on the protocol set by the health department for techies. Kumar told DH, “We gave IT companies IEC (Information, Education and Communication) materials and hygiene standards to follow. Techies who have gone abroad have to self-declare at the airport and be under surveillance if they exhibit any flu symptoms.”

Kumar also met mall owners’ association and club associations on the precautions to be taken.

Shashidhar Buggi, former director, Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases, said experts in specialised institutions need to come out of their chambers to meet people to reassure them.

“A lot of information is being given by the government. But the best way to beat the noise created by social media is to reach out to people as directly as possible,” he said.

(Published 06 March 2020, 18:45 IST)

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