Panic buying: Vendors, shoppers at risk of infection?

Panic buying: Vendors, shoppers at risk of infection?
A crowded market place in Dimapur on Friday. (NP)
Staff Reporter DIMAPUR, MAR 27 (NPN) | Publish Date: 3/27/2020 12:26:55 PM IST

As panic buying continues in the State’s commercial hub with shoppers and vendors not taking sufficient precautionary measures, the possibility of grocery stores and market areas becoming centres for COVID-19 outbreak cannot be ruled out.

Assurance from authorities that sufficient food stocks were available have not stopped anxious residents from resorting to panic buying and hoarding as large number of consumers thronged market places across the town on Friday

In departmental stores, people were seen with loaded carts and baskets, while general stores and market places selling vegetables were packed with people.

Though so far Nagaland has not recorded any COVID-19 positive case, it is imperative to note that 2,719 persons are under surveillance as on Friday, and that the State has so far sent only 17 samples for testing, out of which 13 have tested negative.

Experts have said the incubation period for the virus is 2-14 days. So it is very likely that the possible future COVID-19 patients, who are infected but unaware that the virus is incubating in their bodies, could be one of those shoppers/buyers.

When this reporter visited daily markets across the town, most vegetable vendors were seen not following the prescribed preventive measures. While most of the shoppers wore masks, many of the vegetable vendors were seen without masks. 

Also, there was no provision for hand washing or hand sanitizers at these markets, and not a single market or store and shopper or vendor was seen maintaining the recommended social distancing of at least one metre (three feet).  

In such a scenario, multiple touch and grab of shopping carts, door handles, boxes, packages, etc, or even human contact cannot be ruled out since such activities are almost unavoidable.

These unregulated activities carry a certain amount of risk at a time when there is very less information of this new virus. If district administration does not step in and come out with measures to prevent overcrowding at grocery stores and market places and ensuring that customers have access to their essential needs, then there is a high possibility of vendors and shoppers becoming the silent carriers of the deadly virus.


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