Mystery of latest Covid Cluster and its origin!
Posted on October 19th, 2020

Sonali Wijeratne Kotte Courtesy The Island

The latest massive Covid-19 surge of over 1,700 cases at the point of writing popularly referred to as the Brandix Cluster” is fast becoming the most formidable and challenging denominator of the nation’s GDP and Public Health.

Apparently, the contact source who impregnated the worker in Brandix with the virus is still not found. The charge must be criminal negligence since the Covid-19 which had hitherto been a localized threat is now, thanks to this dynamic infusion, is spreading its insidious tentacles across the island. The chase for contact tracing is on as this new second wave Covid-19 unleashes a systematic devouring of our citizenry, across the island.

Successive public relations statements of M/s Brandix have taken great pains to vehemently declare their innocence of having been a party to this serious resurgence of Covid-19 in hitherto unprecedented spread and numbers. Apparently, the company has been able to secure letters from the Government Health authorities that the plane loads of passengers coming in from India to Sri Lanka, at the behest of Brandix, were all subject to requisite quarantine formalities and were free of Covid-19 on discharge. The company also glibly asserts that none of the passengers from the three airplanes from India to Sri Lanka have entered their Minuwangoda Brandix facility during the past two months i.e. August – September 2020.

Meanwhile, some of the testimonies coming out of affected workers in Brandix are damning to any company which provokes the same. According to some media reports apparently there were those who were sick and infected before in the factory with some fainting and treated on the premises for influenza and not directed in time to a Government Hospital for Covid testing. There are recorded statements of employees who claim that they were forced to work without leave, even after reporting sick, denied protective health equipment, reports of external inspectors who visited the factory premises purportedly the buyers’ representatives from India, of three batches of passengers from India staying out their quarantine in hotels in Sheraton Hotels in Kosgoda, Long Beach in, Koggala, and hotels in Wadduwa, allegedly without the supervision of Public Health Inspectors, etc., are a just a few of the claims made.

Infections in Brandix offices in Colombo and multiplier effects of community wide transmission from those with links to Bandix Covid-19 patients are now island-wide. A manager from Brandix who visited the deep south has been diagnosed with Covid-19 and thus puts an end to the tourism in that region! Thus, the actual circumstantial evidence of the proliferation of the Covid-19 from Brandix premises far and wide is intractable, short of being an immaculate conception to those who continue in denial of responsibility.

Hence the need of the hour, in such a dire predicament, is how the nation could best contain the present Brandix Covid-19 eruption by learning from its identified mistakes and lapses in this debacle. The truth must not be a casualty in this vital process. Apportioning of blame must be for purpose of redeeming the situation from chaos to at least near normalcy. It is only by acknowledging lapses and systemic inefficiencies that necessary safeguards could be ensured for the industry as a whole with renewed regulations for factory working conditions and health and safety and compensation from those responsible for and careless disregard of health regulations at work site. A mea culpa stance is more suitable for a company professing a philosophy of Garments without Guilt” than a defensive series of public statements each vying with the other for exoneration of responsibility for this eruption on their remit. Such honest acknowledgment was there in the much smaller self-contained Welisara Navy Covid Eruption where even his Excellency the President and Navy top brass were quick to realize and admit their lapses and remedy the same with speedy efficiency.

Professional integrity, love of country and its people, corporate social responsibility in all sincerity and purpose not merely to impress one’s European buyers and obtain tariff concessions, is what the public expects and deserves amidst the fiasco that is being played out. Whilst the nexus between Business and Politics: You scratch my back and I scratch yours” is well known the world over, some deceptions are enough to crack even the bovine intelligence of a few. All the people cannot be fooled all the time. And it takes strength and courage to admit the truth.

Sonali Wijeratne


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