Meerut/Agra/Lucknow, Twenty-four in Meerut, 28 in Agra and four in Lucknow — the vegetable vendors are now emerging as the ‘soft target’ for coronavirus in Uttar Pradesh.
In the past 24 hours, the Naveen wholesale vegetable market has emerged as a hotspot with 24 vegetable vendors testing positive for the deadly virus.
The market, which has been sealed for the past two days, supplies vegetables to the retailers and small shop owners in Meerut.
According to a report, doctors have now expressed serious concern and have suggested decentralisation of the wholesale vegetable market to check the further spread. Health officials are having a tough time tracing the contacts of the corona positive patients.
Doctor Vishwas Chaudhary, Meerut district surveillance officer, said, “The market caters to almost the entire district and we are carrying out sampling on a large scale in the area.”
Meerut District Magistrate Anil Dhingra said, “We have shut the market for two days. After that, it will function from a different location. A permit has been issued to 1,100 vegetable sellers and only they will be allowed to enter the market after it becomes functional. The market will have two separate gates for entry and exit, and action will be taken against anyone who is found flouting social distancing norms.”
The doctors have asked residents to exercise caution while purchasing vegetables.
“One should take the vegetables in a bucket or a bag with zero contact with the seller. Then keep it in warm water with disinfectants like vinegar for at least an hour. After this, vegetables should be washed thoroughly at least twice before consumption,” said Chaudhary.
In Agra, where at least 28 vegetable sellers have tested positive for coronavirus in the past one week, the contact tracing team is having a tough time trying to map their chain of contacts.
Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Babloo Kumar said, “Most of the infected vegetable sellers are from Basai and Tajganj-based markets. People who came in contact with these vegetable sellers have been quarantined. Doorstep delivery of packed vegetables has been started.”
The health department is engaged in a large-scale screening in the affected area where these vegetable sellers reside and do their business.
Besides, the administration has also decided to conduct pool testing of all the vegetable sellers.
In Lucknow, four vegetable vendors have tested positive for coronavirus and three of them belong to the Kaiserbagh vegetable market that has now been sealed.
According to medical experts, vegetable vendors are a soft spot for corona infection because of the nature of their job.
“Right from taking vegetables from the wholesale market to selling them to retail vendors, these people come into contact with scores every day. Most of them do not wash their hands frequently and do not wear gloves,” said an expert.