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Hyderabad pharmacies slash work hours after many staff test Covid positive

At least 128 persons working in pharmacies across the greater Hyderabad region have been infected by the virus to date, according to Kishan Murari Shetty, the President of the Greater Hyderabad Retail Medical Shops Association.

Written by Rahul V Pisharody | Hyderabad | Updated: June 30, 2020 4:52:03 pm
Lucknow: After PM’s speech, spree of panic buying On Friday, over 116 wholesale and retail medical stores in Inderbagh near Koti in Hyderabad downed its shutters. (Express photo/Representational)

Even as the Telangana government is considering reimposing a complete lockdown in and around Hyderabad, the representatives of various chemists and druggists associations have announced their decision to shut shops by 7 pm every day. This comes after a number cases of SARS-COV-2 were reported among staff members working at various drug stores in Hyderabad.

At least 128 persons working in pharmacies across the Greater Hyderabad region have been infected by the novel coronavirus to date, according to Kishan Murari Shetty, the president of the Greater Hyderabad Retail Medical Shops’ Association.

Shetty said that instances of deaths have also been reported among the working staff.

On Friday, over 116 wholesale and retail medical stores in Inderbagh near Koti in Hyderabad downed its shutters. The locality, which is the biggest wholesale market for the sale of bulk drugs in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, was opened only after disinfecting all shops and installing barricades on Monday.

At least nine persons, including owners and staff working at a few shops in the city, have tested positive for Covid-19. Several others, including their family members, are under home quarantine now.

Many wholesale markets in the city, which are not essential services like druggists and chemists, have already opted for a total shutdown. With the public sentiment rising in favour of a total lockdown in the city, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, during a review meeting on June 28, had hinted at the possibility of a fresh lockdown in Hyderabad and surrounding areas. A cabinet meeting will soon take a final decision on the same.

Explaining the apprehensions of pharmacists, Shetty said, “As nearly 1,000 cases are being reported every day, we are at high risk of contracting the disease. Anyone with a fever, cold or cough visits the nearest pharmacy first. With the arrival of rains, it is time for seasonal diseases, too, resulting in more and more people visiting pharmacies.”

There are over 16,000 pharmacies in the Greater Hyderabad region. According to Shetty, the state government should immediately impose a full lockdown. “We are essential services but we too have families. Looks like, except us, no one on the road is worried about contracting the virus. No one wears a mask or listens to us when we ask them to maintain physical distancing,” he added.

Agreeing with Shetty, Ch Anand Kumar Goud, president, Inderbagh Medical Traders’ Association, said the market has been witnessing heavy footfall ever since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the state. “We have been working non-stop for the last four months and still are unable to control the mad rush at the market. Even to buy a slip of crocin, people are coming to the wholesale market. People don’t wear masks or maintain social distancing. With several of us already infected, we too are worried now,” he added.

His association had requested the Assistant Commissioner of Police (Traffic), Sultan Bazar, to erect barricades at the entry and exit of the market to avoid people flocking the market.

The president of Telangana Druggists and Chemists Association Ch Janardhan Rao said the supply of medicines will be ensured at any cost.

“There is an issue and we have requested the police to help us in maintaining social distancing. About the decision on reduced work hours, we have instructed all shops to stick a notice about the same to inform the public,” he said.

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