The affected patients are spread across Chennai, Tiruvallur, Kancheepuram, Cuddalore and Chengalpattu.

An aerial view of the Koyambedu market in Chennai
Coronavirus Coronavirus Sunday, May 03, 2020 - 16:29

Despite efforts taken by the city corporation and the Chennai Metropolitan Development authority to control the spread of coronavirus in Tamil Nadu's capital, yet another hotspot is emerging — Koyambedu. Over 100 COVID-19 cases have been linked to this particular area which houses one of the largest perishable goods markets in the country.

According to sources in the CMDA, a total of 113 persons have been infected so far as a result of this hotspot. Sources in the state government, however, state that the total number is 95, with 41 primary sources of infection and 54 secondary sources of infection. The affected patients are spread across Chennai, Tiruvallur, Kancheepuram, Cuddalore and Chengalpattu. The Koyambedu market complex, which has both retail and wholesale remained open even after the lockdown was announced, primarily because several districts in the state depended on it for fruits and vegetables. Finally, last week, after the first trader was tested positive, the market was shifted.

"Closing down Koyambedu market would have completely disrupted the last-mile supply chain," says a senior official in the CMDA. "The first case to emerge from there was of a woman trader who had gone to Puliyanthope to attend a function. She got infected there and then came back to the market," he adds.

The official further points out that another source of infection was a barber who owned a salon in Koyambedu. TNM had reported about him last week. The man had attended to over 100 customers, says the CMDA official, both in his salon and at their houses.

"Through him, several people got infected and some of them have come to the market, " confirms the CMDA official. "We are doing our best but it is difficult to trace everyone who has come in contact with traders in the market. For instance, if an infected person goes to a shop and hands over cash to a cashier, and the next customer receives this as change, how do we track the second person down? This could happen even in a regular grocery store," he explains.

But so far, the government is making efforts to track down residents in the city and other districts who have been regularly travelling to Koyambedu for supplies and who have been in contact with infected persons. Loaders and labourers who returned to their hometowns in other districts after parts of the Koyambedu market closed are amongst those who have been tested and found to be positive.

According to reports, on Saturday, 18 persons from Ariyalur, 1 person in Perambalur and 7 in Cuddalore were tested positive after they returned from Koyambedu. A vegetable vendor in Tiruvallur who visited the market has also been tested positive

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