India’s largest medicine market closed: Covid outbreak

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New Delhi: Shop owners have decided to temporarily shut Bhagirath Palace in the national capital’s Chandni Chowk — India’s largest wholesale market for medicinal drugs — until 4 June after at least 12 people from the area tested Covid-positive over the last 10 days.

Speaking to ThePrint, Ashish Grover, general secretary of the Delhi Drugs Traders Association said the traders have decided to close their operations for a few days to avoid the infection from spreading any further. According to Grover, the closure of the market will also affect states like Haryana, Rajasthan, Punjab and Maharashtra, as most traders work with businesses in other states.

The Delhi wholesale market, which had over 570 drug traders, had remained open through the lockdown which was first enforced on 25 March. Grover said since they are part of the essential services, the market did not close for a single day.

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“However, since lockdown 4 started (18 May), there was a rush of people who came to the market. Over the last 10 days, 12-14 shop owners and their staff have tested positive for Covid-19,” he said.

“There is a fear among the workers here that the infection may spread even further, so we took a voluntary decision to shut down the market at least till June 4.”

Wait for guidelines

Grover said the traders in the Delhi market will now wait for guidance from the government on how to deal with the Covid-19 situation.

He alleged that the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) has sanitised the area only once in the entire course of the lockdown period. The shop owners have been sanitising the area on their own and taking whatever precautions they can.

“Every person wears a mask. Our association has been sanitising every building,” Grover said. This sudden outbreak of cases has created a sense of panic among workers, many of whom are now unwilling to come to work, he added.

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