Bajaj Auto Limited has confirmed that two of the motorcycle manufacturer's employees who had tested positive for COVID-19 at its Aurangabad plant have succumbed to the infection. Additionally, Bajaj has confirmed that as many as 140 employees have tested positive at the Waluj plant in Aurangabad. The two employees who died, had underlying conditions of hypertension and diabetes, according to a latest statement from Bajaj Auto. The company however denied earlier reports that its manufacturing facility at Waluj has been shut down.
"We have more than 8100 employees and contractors employed in our Waluj plant. Our current incidence of 140 cases of COVID is less than 2 per cent of our strength. Two of our infected employees with underlying conditions of hypertension and diabetes have unfortunately succumbed to the infection," a statement attributed to Ravi Kyran Ramaswamy, Chief Human Resources Office, Bajaj Auto Limited said.
The company however denied reports that the manufacturing facility in Aurangabad has been shut down after many employees tested positive for COVID-19. After a month-long shutdown, Bajaj Auto had reopened its plant in Aurangabad in Maharashtra on April 22. But contrary to certain media reports about the closure of the plant again due to a fresh outbreak of Covid-19 cases among factory workers, Bajaj Auto said that the manufacturing facility at Waluj is functioning normally.
"It has come to our attention that there are reports circulating that Bajaj Auto's manufacturing facility at Waluj in Maharashtra has shut down due to incidence of COVID-19 amongst some employees there. At the outset we want to clarify that our manufacturing facility at Waluj is functioning normally," Bajaj Auto said in the statement.
"Post the country wide lockdown, our Waluj facility has been ramping operations from April 24, 2020 onwards. As part of the ramp-up, detailed cleanliness and health check protocols have been drafted and implemented in consonance and compliance with all government regulations and guidelines. These protocols have been reviewed and approved by appropriate authorities and adherence is strictly monitored by our in-house health and security staff," the statement added.
Bajaj Auto didn't however specify how the company intends to contain the outbreak amongst its employees, considering the high number of COVID positive cases among its factory workers. All that Bajaj Auto has said is that all precautions are being taken, as well as necessary measures for testing, contact tracing, self-isolation and sanitisation of the plant premises.
"From April 24th till June 6th 2020, we had no Covid 19 incidence at our Waluj plant. However, as is well known, post the easing of lockdown progressively from June 1st, there has been a general increase across the country in the rise of infection including amongst industries, armed forces, police, media and government institutions. Likewise, we too had our first reported case on June 6th. We have immediately taken all necessary measures for testing, contact tracing, self-isolation and complete sanitisation as per protocol. All incidences were reported to the appropriate authorities.
"We continue to provide all support including medical assistance to affected employees. We at Bajaj Auto, like the country at large, are now learning to live with the virus. We will continue our normal business operations, while taking all necessary safety measures, as the alternative is to shut down our operations with 'no work no pay' which will have a drastic impact on our employees and supply chain," the statement added.
Bajaj Auto isn't the only automotive brand to face challenges with employees having infected with COVID-19. Passenger car manufacturers like Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai and Toyota have all reported some employees at their individual manufacturing facilities as having been infected with Covid-19 in recent weeks. But with 140 cases confirmed at just on manufacturing plant, Bajaj Auto seems to be the worse affected of automakers as the manufacturing sector begins operations. India now has one of the highest number of cases, with only three countries with a higher number of cases, the United States, Brazil and Russia. As of June 26, 2020, India's confirmed infections were more than 5 lakh, and in the past 24 hours Maharashtra, where the Aurangabad plant is located, reported 5,000 new cases.