COVID-19: Koyambedu market emerges as TN's new hotspot

COVID-19: Koyambedu market emerges as TN's new hotspot
Chennai, May 4 () Koyambedu market for vegetables,fruits and flowers, one of the largest in the country thatused to teem with thousands of people every day here, hasemerged as the latest hotspot for the spread of coronaviruscases in Tamil Nadu.

The development has prompted authorities to shift themarket -spread over 295 acres with over 3,000 outlets of whichonly about 200 of them are presently functional- to suburbanTirumazhisai from Thursday.


Of the 527 positive cases on Monday, a "large number arelinked to the Koyambedu market," a bulletin said while roughestimates provided by officials here and in districts peggedat least 450 cases to have a link to the market place.

In Chennai alone, at least 215 of the 266 new cases werelinked to the Koyambedu market.

Districts, including Cuddalore, which witnessed return ofworkers to their native villages from the market place, haveseen a similar surge.

Cuddalore reported as many as 122 new cases today from acumulative figure of just 39 (till May 3 from March 8 whenTamil Nadu reported its first coronavirus case) and at least124 of them are related to Koyambedu, officials said. Previously, returnees from a religious congregation inDelhi had led to a spurt in coronavirus cases in the state.


On why the market has emerged as a hotspot, a publichealth expert told that the spread happened among traders/shopkeepers and it was not strange as they were in directcontact with a host of others like vendors and truck driverswith a history of continuous travel to several regions withhigh COVID-19 cases like Maharashtra.

Closing down the market or scaling down operations at theinitial stage of lockdown as in the case of other segments wasnot possible as vegetable was a food staple and such a measuremay have scared people, he said.

Hence, the available option of imposing regulations,stipulating social distancing, personal hygiene and protectionmeasures like wearing masks were relentlessly enforced by theauthorities, he pointed out.

Ever since a vegetable vendor tested positive from themarket last week, Greater Chennai Corporation authoritiesstepped up surveillance and deployed a team of healthpersonnel and a mobile van for testing purposes.

Besides the vendor, another flower dealer and ahairdresser in the market's vicinity had tested positive forthe coronavirus during the same period and following suchcases, a new high in the number of infections among thoselinked to the market is now being witnessed.


Also, effective last Thursday, retail trade wasdisallowedand flower and fruit vendors too scaled down theiroperations.

Following the restrictions, there has been a drastic dropin footfalls in the market.

Officials said that approximately 4,900 people from themarket place, including owners of outlets and workers, have sofar been tested and complete results were yet to be out.

Considering today's trend of a big chunk of them testingpositive, there was a chance that several others might alsoturn positive, they indicated.

Since the market has become a concern for authorities,State Disaster Response Force and Armed Reserve personnel weredeployed as part of efforts to regulate movement of tradersand help prevent the further spread of the contagion. After inspecting the market, Commissioner of RevenueAdministration and special nodal officer here for COVID-19initiatives here, J Radhakrishnan told reporters that focusedtesting was on at the market place under which all theemployees were being tested.


In view of targeted testing, the number of positive caseswas likely to go up, he said, adding that however the rise innumbers was not a cause for concern as all anti-COVID-19efforts were being taken by the government.

Pointing out that several people who tested positive wereasymptomatic, he said arrangements were on to house suchpatients in facilities like colleges and the Trade Centre atNandambakkam, which are designated as Covid Care Centres,rather than in hospitals. VGNAPRVS VS

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