Seventeen Workers quarantined inside shops at Azadpur mandi, including some whose swab samples were taken almost a week ago after their employer tested positive for COVID-19, have been waiting for results and help from the administration.
Expressing distress over the long delay in getting results — they were tested on April 23 — they said they were not even getting access to food or water inside the shop, which is also their home.
Last week, a 57-year-old vegetable trader — who shared a stall at the market with an apple trader — died of COVID-19 at Max Hospital, Saket, where he had been hospitalsed. Seventeen of his employees have been quarantined inside that stall since his death. The staff said the trader would visit the stall regularly for a few hours daily before he was hospitalised.
A 24-year-old man, one of those quarantined, said it was they who informed the APMC of his death after they got to know of it on April 20. “We made a list of all our names and phone numbers and gave it to the security guard, and even tried to reach out to the district administration,” he said.
The man said it was only on April 23 — three days after the death — that their samples were collected. “It was a struggle to even have our samples taken,” he claimed.
North Delhi District Magistrate Deepak Shinde said the results of the employees are still awaited: “The test results are awaited as of now. We got the report of the death of the trader on April 21, sent people for screening on April 22, and took their samples on April 23.”
So far, 11 traders from the market have tested positive in Delhi. Two cases of vendors who came to Delhi from Jhajjar, and another who came from Panipat, have also tested positive. More than 30 employees in six shops have been quarantined in the market after the traders’ results were positive.
On Tuesday in a review meeting between the Union and Delhi health ministry officials, the high number of pending tests was flagged as a problem that could potentially result in a situation where the case load becomes unmanageable as till the results are received, contacts of a suspect are not quarantined and tested.
A 50-year-old employee said on Wednesday, “We are finding it difficult to get food. No one is paying us any attention.”
Shinde acknowledged they had received complaints about distribution of food: “We did get some complaints of food but have sorted that out now. Civil defence volunteers are there to maintain social distancing. There was a delay in getting their report from the lab.”
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