With the fourth phase of lockdown implemented, many restrictions have been eased. As a result of which, many companies, especially automobile manufacturers which have seen minimal business be carried out during the first three phases, were happy when they were able to resume their operations although in a phased manner.
However, it seems the hurdle of Covid-19 infections is far away from being overcome. Three employees of Hyundai Motor India and one from Maruti Suzuki India has tested positive for Covid-19 infection. This has raised the tantalizing question as to how businesses will be carried out amidst this pandemic? What is in store for the automotive industry in the near future?
With employees getting infected at these two car manufacturing companies, it has sent an alarming signal to all the manufacturing industries across the country, especially automobile manufacturers. Both companies had only resumed operations at their respective manufacturing facilities earlier this month after weeks of suspension.
A spokesperson from Maruti Suzuki confirmed that an employee at its Manesar facility was residing in an area that had been turned into a containment zone. The said employee did not report to work after this development – his last attendance was on May 15, and he eventually tested positive. The company further added that there was a possibility of a second positive case but has not confirmed it yet.
Similarly, Hyundai through a media release informed that three of its employees at its plant near Chennai had started showing symptoms of Covid-19. They were immediately asked to meet the medical expert team for further evaluation. They subsequently tested positive for Covid-19 and immediate medical attention was provided to them.
According to a report, test results of sixteen more workers who possibly came into contact with the infected employees are expected over the next two days. “The state’s policy is to not let the industry stall,” P Ponniah, a bureaucrat in the Kancheepuram district where Hyundai’s plant is located, said.
So coming to the important question as to how to handle this tricky situation? Prior to resuming operations, manufacturers had come up with strict Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for safety and precautions against Covid-19. The companies have ensured that at every level, social distancing is practised and no compromises are made regarding this. Other than that, every person is checked for symptoms every time he/she enters the premises. Thermal check-ups should are mandatory at every level and anyone found symptomatic is sent to immediate medical care.
While Hyundai and Maruti had previously claimed that they had implemented most of the measures, these measures have to be practised on a daily basis by all manufacturers for a considerable period of future, at least till the time, there is a vaccine created for this virus. Both Maruti and Hyundai have now undertaken a contact tracing exercise and say they are supporting employees who tested positive for Covid-19.
In our opinion, since the virus is here to stay and we’re yet to find medication, we’ll have to learn to live with it and restart life as we know it by changing our ways to keep ourselves safe. Doing so is risky, but if there’s no livelihood, we won’t survive for too long being locked inside our homes. The show must go on. There’s no other way.