Authorities in the national capital, battling an intense Covid-19 outbreak, have found high prevalence of the infection among shopkeepers in markets such as those in West Delhi, which have recorded heavy footfall ahead of Diwali.
According to official statistics, on Sunday, around 225 shopkeepers across Tilak Nagar, Raghubir Nagar and Jail Road markets were tested, out of which 41 people — more than 18% — have tested positive so far. The samples were tested through RT-PCR method, a district surveillance officer said.
Expressing worry over the development, West Delhi District Magistrate Neha Bansal said the administration was compelled to carry out testing as its repeated requests to market associations to implement preventive measures went unheeded.
The shops whose owners or managers have tested positive were ordered to be shut by the administration for three days. “We were left with no other option. The district administration is doing all that it can but people need to cooperate. The markets are teeming with shoppers. Shopkeepers also need to realise that they can potentially spread the infection among a large number of people,” Bansal told The Indian Express.
At Tilak Nagar Market, 11 out of 84 RT-PCR samples returned positive; 20 out of 81 were infected at Jail Road market; and 10 cases were reported out of 60 at Raghubir Nagar market.
A surveillance officer also underlined the near impossible task of tracing contacts in these cases. “Festive shopping must have brought cheer to shopkeepers who suffered losses due to the lockdown. However, even basic norms such as wearing masks are not being followed by people thronging these markets or shops,” a
senior Delhi government official said.
In Central Delhi, District Magistrate Arava Gopi Krishna said the administration was carrying out tests at market places across the district and at the Kashmere Gate Inter-State Bus Terminus. Central district is home to many busy markets such as Sadar Bazar, Azad Market and Kamla Market among others.
So far, around 650 RT-PCR tests, including 241 on Sunday, have been carried out among shopkeepers and visitors at these markets and the ISBT. Krishna said that as per protocol, a shop whose owner or manager tests positive is closed for 48 hours for carrying out sanitisation.
According to the Delhi government, the city is in the throes of a third Covid wave with 39,795 active cases as of Monday, over 16,000 of which have surfaced in the last two weeks. On Monday, the health bulletin registered 5,023 cases, and 71 deaths.
Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain had on November 4 announced the government’s plan to carry out targeted testing at market places and other crowded areas. He has also been appealing to people to wear masks. As part of this, testing was ordered to be ramped up in West and Central Delhi due to its dense population.
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