Just a couple of hours after Anand city reported its first COVID-19 case on Tuesday, a group residents of Padhariya area where a 54-year-old man tested positive, blocked entry to their alleys using bamboo poles and other barricades to keep people away, even as others kept watch on every movement from behind the iron grills of their homes.
Padhariya is a mixed neighbourhood located parallel to the usually busy but now deserted railway station. The man, an employee attached to the transport department of the municipality, is a resident of Enterprise Colony on the other side of the railway line.
One among a group of men who was blocking the entry to a masjid with bamboo sticks said, “We are aware that someone has tested positive in a settlement a bit ahead from here. There has been no checking here yet. We are closing entry to the masjid to ensure that no one enters until the situation eases.”
At the colony, a man who identified himself as the “patient’s cousin”, said in a muffled voice through his mask, “I am a policeman. After my cousin tested positive this morning, the administration told me to remain in home quarantine. The entire family, including his brother, wife and children, have locked themselves inside the house and are waiting to be tested.”
In the adjacent lanes, officers of the municipality were disinfecting homes as residents were waiting outside. One person with the disinfecting machine was in protective gear while two others were wearing a plastic raincoat as they went about with their work.
One of the residents said, “We have been told to wait outside for half an hour. Most of us living here are government employees with a majority being teachers. The positive case has left us worried. We know this person did not travel anywhere.”
Another resident says, “He would just go to work and come back and never interacted much with others. We have been wondering how he contracted the virus. We are aware that we are all at risk now.”
The administration has quarantined 75 persons who could have come in contact with the patient, including several staff members of the municipality. Collector RG Gohil said that the area was being contained to avoid further spread. “He did not have any travel history. He also doesn’t seem to have come in contact with anyone with suspected symptoms. The case appears to be that of community spread through an unknown source,” said Gohil.
Ever since the report arrived on Tuesday morning, the district administration swung into action to disinfect and cordon off the neighborhood. Gohil also imposed restrictions on movement of residents after 10 am during the lockdown. Vegetable and fruit vendors who were allowed to sell from hand carts have been asked to stay off the roads. Instead, the Collector said, the APMC will designate tractors to carry vegetables to localities. Only medical shops are allowed to remain open.
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