Five vegetable vendors in Rajkot tested positive for coronavirus on Friday during a drive conducted by the Rajkot Municipal Corporation (RMC) to screen the health of all fruit and vegetable vendors in the city and issue them health cards in an attempt to contain the spread of the virus. The drive started a day after Chief Minister Vijay Rupani had visited Rajkot on Wednesday to review the preparedness of the city and district to tackle the pandemic. In light of the district having seen a huge surge in cases in July, the CM ordered that vendors be screened in order to prevent them from becoming ‘super-spreaders’ of the viral infection.
The RMC organised a health camp for fruit and vegetable vendors living in Chhotunagar area of the city on Friday and screened a total of 1,378 vendors. “Out of them, 348 were referred for testing and rapid antigen tests (RATs) were conducted on the spot. Of the 348 referred for tests, five tested positive for Covid-19. They had mild symptoms of the disease and have been referred to a Covid Care Centre, while the rest have been issued cards of their health,” Rajkot Municipal Commissioner Udit Agrawal told The Indian Express.
The municipal commissioner said that there are an estimated 5,000 fruit and vegetable vendors in the city and the RMC has planned to screen the health of all of them over the span of three to four days. “Tomorrow (Saturday), we shall organise a similar health camp in Raiyadhar, which is another area where such vendors live in large numbers. We shall follow it by another drive in Kitipara,” Agrawal said.
He added that the civic body had enough RAT kits and the supply of such material is regular. “We started the latest round of RATs yesterday. For this drive, we would require around 1,200 kits. After that, we shall screen provision store-keepers and hawkers in hawker zones in the last phase,” Agrawal added.
Dr Pankaj Rathod, deputy medical officer of health of the RMC, said that once big residential clusters of fruit and vegetable vendors are covered, the RMC will focus on those left out and draw their samples after contacting them on streets.
The move comes a day after Rupani visited his hometown and directed the screening of all fruit and vegetable vendors and provision store-keepers, along the line of a drive conducted in Ahmedabad when the city was a hotspot of Covid-19 a few weeks ago. The CM’s visit had come a day after the total number of Covid-19 cases in Rajkot went past the 1,000-mark. Most of the cases have been reported this month as the city’s tally on June 30 was only 167. With the addition of 58 fresh cases on Friday, the tally of total confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Rajkot went up to 1,178.
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