Coronavirus: Tamil Nadu's 65-acre market is now a super spreader

The Koyambedu wholesale market, which attracts people from all over the world looking to sell their products or are looking for work, has become a super-diffuser of Covid-19, pushing many districts into the red-orange zone as the numbers increase. infections

From Cuddalore in northern Tamil Nadu to the south, people who visited the 65-acre market that also receives trucks from across the country have begun to test positive en masse. Almost all of the 122 positive cases reported in Cuddalore on Monday go back to Koyambedu. Test results of 450 more contacts from Koyambedu are expected. Forty-nine people who visited the market tested positive on Monday, while 33 did so on Sunday.

Now Cuddalore, Villupuram, Dindigul, and Tenkasi are likely to be reclassified as red zones. These were among the 14 districts in the state that had gone from being red-orange to just a few days ago.

Koyambedu's group has sent the official machinery in the districts into overdrive: Border control has been stepped up to arrest, test and isolate people coming from Chennai.

Villupuram Police Superintendent S Jayaram said four centers have been established to quarantine 459 people who visited the market and 287 of their close contacts.

District authorities in Tiruppur and Salem have issued notices and helpline numbers asking people connected to Koyambedu to test for the tests on a voluntary basis.

Collector M said that of the 100 people who returned from Koyambedu and were examined, ten tested positive on Monday. Their contacts are being tracked and detected, he said.

Collectors and health officials in western districts have also raised their guard. In Tiruppur, two shippers who traveled in a watermelon truck from Koyambedu two days ago tested positive. In Coimbatore, 28 people with a history of travel to Koyambedu have been tracked so far, and in Nilgiris 43 people have been tracked.

Deputy Director of Health Services Dr. G Ramesh Kumar said the 28 people tracked in Coimbatore are from Mettupalayam, Sirumugai and Pollachi. They will be tested for Covid-19 on Tuesday, he said.

Ariyalur and Perambalur, two districts in central Tamil Nadu had maintained single digit cases all this time. No more. In the last four days, the number has shot up from eight to 34 in Ariyalur and from nine to 36 in Perambalur. And, they are all linked to Koyambedu.

Since there are few job opportunities for villagers in these two districts, they do odd jobs in the Koyambedu market to supplement the income from their farmland.