Cadila Pharmaceuticals, one of the largest privately held pharma companies in the country, shut down its formulations manufacturing plant in Ahmedabad on Thursday after more than two dozen of its employees tested positive for the new coronavirus. A senior government official said late on Thursday that five employees had tested positive for COVID-19 six days back, while 21 others tested positive this week.
"We had collected samples of 30 employees of Cadila on May 5, and 21 of the samples returned positive a day later," said Arun Mahesh Babu, the District Development Officer of Ahmedabad. He added the plant was ordered to be shut down on Thursday, 95 employees had been quarantined and sanitization work at the site had begun.
The incident comes just days after India began to ease some of its lockdown restrictions aimed at preventing the spread of the new coronavirus. Ahmedabad, however, is one of the more badly affected cities in India and has moved to tighten restrictions this week. In a statement, Cadila Pharmaceuticals said, "Recently, 26 of our employees from our Dholka manufacturing facility tested positive for COVID-19. Following this, we have closed our operations on our own."
The company also said it is cooperating with the local administration to ensure the safety and security of its facility and surroundings. Besides Dholka, Cadila Pharmaceuticals has manufacturing facilities in other parts of India and in Ethiopia. The company is a major producer of active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) - the key ingredients used in making a drug.