With Covid-19 cases on a steady rise in Vadodara city and district since the lockdown was eased on June 1, Padra town in Padra taluka of the district has recorded a jump of almost 42 cases.
The Sardar Patel vegetable market located in Padra, which makes for a large portion of the vegetables supplied to cities like Vadodara, Anand, Bharuch, Nadiad and Ahmedabad, has seen as many as 25 traders testing positive for Covid-19 since last week.
The town recorded five more Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, taking the tally to 47. The district tally for Covid-19 on May 31 was 38 and it touched 152 on June 17. Until last week on June 11, nine vegetable traders had tested positive and within a week, the number rose to 25.
Local traders, who had implemented a self-imposed lockdown from June 13-17, opened markets with much caution even as the administration has been conducting screening of the vendors. A BJP councillor of Padra municipality, Manisha Bhavsar, her husband and son are also among those who tested positive this week.
Prominent markets in the town such as Sardar chowk vegetable market, Choksi market for grocery and all kirana stores opened on Thursday after five days of being shut, but wore a deserted look as buyers stayed away.
Local trader Mukesh Patel said, “The timing of the vegetable market has been fixed at 4-7 am to avoid large crowds and the markets opened with strict social distancing. People are aware that the town is clustered and it is difficult to break the chain of the transmission unless we stay indoors.”
Most of the residents believe that the virus entered the town in the current magnitude through traders who began travelling after the lockdown was lifted. “Many of our vegetable traders travel to different cities. Some vegetables like drumsticks are transported as far as Mumbai, because we have a huge crop here. Once the interstate movements began, we had traders going to Mumbai which is a hotbed of Covid-19. It is likely that they brought the infection here,” said another trader at the vegetable market.
Chief District Health Officer of Vadodara, Dr Uday Tilavat said, “We have asked traders to consult each other and let us know if they can extend their lockdown for a few more days, to break the chain of transmission. The health teams have finished screening 219 vendors and we have also given preventive medicines to about 125 close contacts of positive cases. This includes the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) to prevent complications in high-risk persons.”
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