Brandix Brought Down 60 Workers from India
In the backdrop of authorities failing to ascertain the original source of the rapidly growing Brandix cluster, a document citing flight details that indicated 60 persons had arrived from India raised concerns last afternoon.
These flight details surfaced at a time when speculations were ripe that there had been some Indian workers present at the Minuwangoda Brandix factory. However, such speculations were put to rest by Army Commander Lt. General Shavendra Silva during a press conference held yesterday morning.
Another reason for concern arose due to a statement given by the Minuwangoda factory worker, who was first detected as Covid-19 positive. She alleged that they were forced to work, despite complaining of fever, as the factory management was trying to complete an urgent order from India.
When inquired about Indian workers being present in Sri Lanka, Indian High Commission in Colombo stated that as far as they were aware, all international arrivals were subjected to strict Government quarantine guidelines.
Meanwhile, when contacted, B. Kantheepan, the Director General of Foreign Affairs Ministry, confirmed that a group of Brandix workers did arrive at Mattala on a chartered flight UL 1155 on 22 September from Vishakhapatnam, India.
“However, it is the Sri Lanka Army that is in charge of them and their quarantine details are available with them,” he added.
When contacted, the Army Commander confirmed the group was placed at Sheroton Kosgoda for the 14-day quarantine.
Meanwhile, with criticism and concerns mounting, especially on social media, Brandix issued a statement clarifying the matter.
It was revealed that not only once but Brandix had repatriated workers from India on three flights.
“We understand that there have been concerns with regard to foreign nationals working at our facility in Minuwangoda and would like to clarify as follows. We can confirm that no parties from India or any other country have had access to the facility during this period. We would also like to clarify that our facility in Minuwangoda does not use any fabric from India nor has it taken in any orders from our facility in India as well.
“With regard to concerns on employees returning to Sri Lanka from India on chartered flights. We operated three chartered flights from Visakhapatnam, India for our Sri Lankan employees working in India and their families, who returned to Sri Lanka. We confirm that they, including their families, followed the Sri Lanka Government protocol for the prevention and control of COVID-19, which includes PCR testing and a 14-day mandatory quarantine at a Government regulated quarantine facility, as well as the 14-day self-quarantine process done under the supervision of the respective PHIs. Further to this, it must also be noted that none of these Sri Lankans nor their family members visited the Minuwangoda manufacturing facility,” the statement read.
Meanwhile, further inquiries by this newspaper revealed that none of the PHIs or regional health authorities were involved in performing PCR tests or were aware of the Brandix workers in quarantine. The MOH office in Balapitiya however, said they are only involved in supervisions if required.
Further inquiries by the newspaper also revealed that the PCR tests of the Brandix workers were carried out by a private party and the entire process of repatriation is handled by a private company.