No physical distancing at Koyambedu market, crowd inflow makes screening difficult

No physical distancing is followed at the Koyambedu market   | Photo Credit: M. VEDHAN

The lockdown might have brought down the number of visitors to the Koyambedu wholesale market but the crowds are still nowhere near manageable for the health teams posted at the two entry points.

Before the lockdown, on an average, nearly 1 lakh visitors, including retail traders used to visit the market every day. After the lockdown, the number of visitors to has dropped to 50,000- 60,000 daily.

A few days ago, Health Minister C. Vijayabaskar inspected the market and checked the feasibility of deploying a health team to help in COVID-19 containment measures. Health teams were posted on a shift basis -- from 2 a.m. to 2 p.m. -- at two gates of the vegetable and fruit market.

Health officials said the teams were deployed at the market to screen visitors, conduct medical camps and take up disinfection measures. However, the continuous inflow of customers is making screening difficult, an official source said.

“The screening team has four to five handheld thermometers to check the visitors, and it is impossible to isolate those with symptoms considering the surroundings and crowd. Thermal scanners at the entry points will help the teams identify persons with fever,” he said.

The wholesale traders start to come into the market from 1 a.m. onwards, while the retail markets open at 3.30 a.m. to 4 a.m. The market is open to the public till 2 p.m. “The teams are able to screen other State truck drivers and workers involved in unloading workers, and truck drivers from other parts of the State too,” he said.

Traders noted that screening of visitors began on Wednesday morning at the important gates of the market. Though physical distancing is insisted on, it is not implemented as crowds surge during the few hours when the wholesale market functions, they said.

S. Srinivasan, president, Chennai Fruits Agents Association, said drones were being used to disinfect the market. The market is receiving only up to 400 vehicles daily as there is a dearth of workers. However, the authorities must take action to control retail trading in some pockets of the market, he added.

Officials of the Koyambedu Market Management Committee said the market was still crowded during peak hours and physical distancing is proving to a challenge. About 1,600 smaller vehicles that visit the market are regulated and disinfected, they said.

“Health Department officials have sought the support of traders’ association for thermal screening in the market. We are using drones, jetrodding machines and lorries for disinfection,” an official said.

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Printable version | Jun 22, 2021 5:38:28 PM |

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