A 57-year-old trader from Delhi’s Azadpur wholesale fruit and vegetable market died of the coronavirus on Tuesday, Hindustan Times reported. The death triggered panic among sellers in Asia’s biggest wholesale market, who urged the government to close it and initiate containment activities to avoid spread of the infection.

This came a day after the Delhi government allowed the Azadpur market to remain open round-the-clock. Minister for Labour and Employment Gopal Rai had said that the market was catering to people and procuring produce from farmers across the country.

District Magistrate (North) Deepak Shinde said the jackfruit and pea trader tested positive on Monday after his sample was collected on April 19. “He is a resident of Majlis Park and was admitted to a private hospital two days prior to being tested,” he added.

He added that a team has been deployed to trace people who came in contact with the trader, according to The Times of India. “He had a business partner, who is also being contacted,” an official said.

Meanwhile, Shinde said the deceased trader’s shop and its surrounding areas have been cordoned off.

Another unidentified official from the district said this was not the first instance of a person from the Azadpur market testing positive for the coronavirus. “Earlier, a tomato dealer from Shalimar Bagh and a cauliflower seller who had left for his hometown in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghonda were both found positive,” he added. “So, rigorous contact tracing is on.”

Anil Malhotra, a trader, accused authorities of being negligent about the spread of the infection in the market. “We urge the government to shut the market for the time being,” he said. “We are ready to do business in the open while adhering to all social distancing norms and regulations at Japanese Park or any other big stadium.”

The Azadpur market is spread across 78 acres and more than two lakh people visit it on a usual day. The market also caters to more than 70% of Delhi and neighbouring towns of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.

Delhi has recorded over 2,155 cases and 47 deaths, according to the health ministry data.

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