Pepsi non-action after employee tests positive for Covid-19 triggers panic

AN employee at Varun Beverages’ Harare facility has tested positive for Covid-19 but the company declined to shed light on whether any precautionary measures to enforce self-isolation of his close contacts was being taken, triggering concerns over the safety of Pepsi products.

Varun Beverages general manager Fungai Murahwa read questions sent to him on his mobile by Zim Morning Post but ignored.

Sources say the employee who is stationed at the firm’s soft drinks plant in Harare where he interacts with dozens of other employees tested positive for Covid-19 after he visited his health care provider following days of feeling unwell.

For Covid-19, a close contact is defined as any individual who was within six feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from two days before illness onset.

The employee is said to be receiving the appropriate treatment from their health care provider and is in stable condition.

Impeccable sources who spoke to Zim Morning Post said they were worried that the beverages manufacturer appeared unmoved by the incidence and showed no sign of acting swiftly to contain any potential spread of the virus and to assist those who had been in contact with the affected employee.

“We have been told to find our own way to get tested,” said an employee who requested anonymity fearing reprisal.

“There, has, however been murmurs that they might start testing but so far no-one has been tested, even randomly, yet we service millions of Zimbabweans daily. We could even be spreading the virus unknowingly.”

Workers at Varun Beverages recently embarked on a flash protest against the beverages manufacturer over meagre salaries, poor working conditions and unfair labour conditions.

The company’s workers earn an average ZWL$4,000 (US$40) a month.Zimbabwe’s poverty datum line (PDL) in April for an average of five persons per household stood at ZWL$7 425,81 according to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency.

The episode at Varun Beverages Zimbabwe comes as eight Covid-19 confirmed cases were reported in PepsiCo Beijing’s chips branch, which caused the company to suspend operations.

When an employee in the company that mainly produces Lay’s chips was confirmed to be infected on June 15, PepsiCo immediately suspended production, all stocks were sealed off and outbound transportation was prohibited, said Fan Zhimin, from the publicity department of PepsiCo in China, at the Beijing government’s anti-epidemic press conference in June.