Coronavirus in Mumbai: Nine more BEST staffers test positive; total number of affected employees at 137

On Tuesday, nine more employees of the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The news was announced by the BEST Public Relations Officer in Mumbai.

This takes the total number of affected BEST employees to 137. At the end of last week, the total number of fatalities from among BEST staffers stood at eight. The first COVID-19 case was reported on April 4 and within a month the number of cases had risen to 108.

According to reports, the BEST workers union had earlier appealed to people to stay home as cases continue to rise. The workers' union had appealed to its 40,000 employees to stay home from Monday and ensure 100% lockdown in services, pending its demand for Rs 1 crore in medical insurance for every employee and their family.

This call to action has mostly gone un-answered. On Sunday, the BEST issued a circular stating its buses would ply from May 18 onward to facilitate the movement of essential service personnel.

Despite knowing the severity of the situation, on Monday, 1,542 buses with 1,499 conductors and 1,642 drivers in attendance took to the streets of Mumbai.

As BEST spokesperson Manoj Varade put it, the employees "reported to work without no persuasion because they know their responsibility well".

According to data shared by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, as of Tuesday afternoon, Maharashtra had recorded over 35,000 positive cases. Of these, a majority of cases have been reported from Mumbai.

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