Chennai

Koyambedu accounts for over 600 cases in T.N.

Moving out: Koyambedu wholesale market workers taken in a bus as the market is being relocated.

Moving out: Koyambedu wholesale market workers taken in a bus as the market is being relocated.   | Photo Credit: K_Pichumani

Majority of the patients are vendors, labourers and their contacts

The Koyambedu market is emerging as one of the biggest clusters of COVID-19 infection in Tamil Nadu. As of Monday, the cluster accounted for more than 600 cases, and was the reason behind the spread of the infectious disease to at least half the State, said officials.

The Health department, in its bulletin, noted that a large number of the day’s COVID-19 count of 527 cases were linked to the market, though it did not specify the exact number of cases.

The majority of those infected were vendors and daily wage labourers, and their contacts.

While cases from the cluster began to emerge last week, “by Monday, the cases had spread to half of Tamil Nadu... Districts as far as Ariyalur and Perambalur reported positive cases among persons who had visited Koyambedu market,” a Health department official said. Cuddalore, for instance, reported 107 new cases among those who returned from the market.

In fact, in many districts, the administrations have asked persons who visited the market to report to officials.

Contact tracing

“When compared to other districts, the persons who test positive in Chennai have more contacts. Take the Koyambedu cluster as an instance. A vendor who has tested positive has more number of contacts. We are lifting samples from all their contacts whether they have symptoms or not,” an official said.

Unlike in the case of persons who had attended the Tablighi Jamaat conference in Delhi, getting a list of persons who visited the market is next to impossible, another official said.

“Now, we have started to ask people if they had travelled to Koyambedu like how we used to ask for travel history earlier.

“This is one of the biggest emerging clusters in the State,” he added.

K. Kolandaswamy, a public health expert, said that the majority of those who have tested positive were vendors and their contacts.

“Customers who visited the market would have had a very brief interaction. Persons who visit markets to purchase vegetables should wash their hands thoroughly,” he said.

He noted that the spread had happened despite massive and regular disinfection works at the market.

Sharp dip in customers

With the increase in cases at the market, the Koyambedu wholesale market witnessed a sharp dip in the number of visitors on Monday. With only the wholesale vegetable market allowed to function before a decision to shut down was taken on Monday evening, the market received about 120 truckloads of vegetables, which is less than half the daily load.

Wholesale merchants noted that the dip in the number of visitors could be due to the fear of COVID-19. Some vegetable shops, particularly those selling onions, were closed too due to the threat of infection.

On Monday, only about 2,000-3,000 retail traders visited the market and most of them were from the city. Those from neighbouring places such as Arakkonam and Chengalpattu did not visit the market.

Vegetables unsold

About 40-50 truckloads of vegetables remained unsold for want of takers, according to traders.

Though the number of visitors has dipped over the past few days, hygiene issues among the labourers is still a concern. Many of the labourers do not follow the practice of wearing masks, traders said. There are about 1,000 labourers now in the market.

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Printable version | Jul 16, 2020 9:47:55 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/koyambedu-accounts-for-over-600-cases-in-tn/article31505508.ece

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