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Home / India News / Owner of popular grocery store in Defence Colony tests Covid positive

Owner of popular grocery store in Defence Colony tests Covid positive

The owner of a prominent grocery store in Delhi’s popular Defence Colony market has tested positive for the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), officials said on Thursday

india Updated: May 22, 2020 02:31 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
People shop for essentials in Defence Colony.
People shop for essentials in Defence Colony.(Sanjeev Verma/HT PHOTO)

The owner of a prominent grocery store in Delhi’s popular Defence Colony market has tested positive for the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), officials said on Thursday, even as health care workers launched efforts to trace people who may have come in contact with the 53-year-old.

Manoj Gupta, the owner of Defence Store in the south Delhi neighbourhood, was admitted to the Max Hospital in Saket on Tuesday after developing flu-like symptoms. He later tested positive for the infectious disease, the Defence Colony residents’ welfare association said. Seven family members of Gupta and three domestic help were later put under home quarantine as a precaution.

The grocery store, which carries both domestic and imported brands of various food and daily use items, was operational with social distancing norms through the lockdown, which was necessitated by the Covid-19 outbreak.

Gupta’s family has decided to keep the store shut till the test results of all staffers and other family members are out. The Defence Colony Market Association said the neighbourhood market – over time, it has come to be identified as a popular shopping destination – will remain open while adhering to the government’s guidelines. The market reopened on Tuesday after the government allowed a graded relaxation of restrictions under the fourth phase of the lockdown.

There are 52 commercial establishments in the market, including restaurants, bakeries, grocery stores and chemists.

Gupta’s family said he did not visit any location other than the store during the movement restrictions, which have effectively been in place since March 22.

“We don’t know how he got the infection. He did not go anywhere except the store. Our test reports are expected to arrive on Friday. The store’s three staff members have also been tested at RML Hospital for Covid-19 and the reports are likely to come in a day or two. We will not reopen the store till all the reports return negative. We have already got the store sanitised and will get it disinfected multiple times before opening,” said Pramod Gupta, Manoj Gupta’s brother.

The Delhi government and district administration could not be immediately contacted for a comment regarding tracing Gupta’s contacts over the past few days.

As news of Gupta’s test result broke, residents began calling the area councillor, Seema Mallik, to have the market disinfected. The colony has over 4,800 housing units spread over five blocks, with a sizeable population of retired government and armed forces personnel.

Mallik said: “I have got calls from residents and the market association, and will get the entire market sanitised.”

Gaurav Dhingra, owner of Defence Bakery, said they were trying to spread awareness about the disease among customers. “We have been taking all necessary precautions from the beginning. We should not get scared because somebody has tested for the disease here. Rather, we should be supportive and not stigmatise the person and family. We have already asked our customers to wear masks and gloves. Only two customers are allowed inside at a time. We are encouraging contactless payments,” he said.

The market association has asked owners of all shops in the area to ensure social distancing inside their stores. “I have asked owners to display products on tables outside the stores, to ensure social distancing inside the shop,” said Rajinder Malik, president, Defence Colony market association.

Major (retd) Ranjit Singh, president of the Defence Colony residents’ welfare association, said: “So far, we don’t know how he contracted the virus. District health officials have sanitised Gupta’s residence, his shop and the rest of the market. We will ensure the family gets all the necessary help.”

Singh sent a message to residents in the colony on Wednesday, informing them about the positive test, and appealing to them not to blame Gupta for contracting the disease or trying to bully the family.

Customers of the popular store also appealed that the owner and his family not be stigmatised. “We should support them. It’s fine to visit the store taking all precautions necessary,” said Abhay Sharma, who works in an IT firm in Gurugram, and is a regular customer.

Riya Mittal, a Delhi University student who was at Defence Bakery on Thursday, said: “Thousands of people have tested positive in Delhi now. We will have to keep going taking all precautions.”

With the government relaxing the curbs of the lockdown, medical experts say people have to learn to live with the virus. “There is no need to panic or worry. We can’t sanitise all places because there are so many people who are asymptomatic. People should just follow basic precautions,” said Dr Lalit Kant, former head of epidemiology and communicable diseases at the Indian Council of Medical Research.

Now that people are stepping out for work, Dr Jugal Kishore, head of community medicine at Safdarjung hospital, said: “The only thing we can do is take precautions like ensuring social distancing and frequently washing our hands and wearing a mask.”

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