Coronavirus: Delivery executive in Delhi tests positive, 72 placed in quarantine
Foodtech unicorn Zomato on Thursday revealed that a 19-year old restaurant employee in Delhi’s Malviya Nagar tested positive for coronavirus, prompting authorities to quarantine 72 people whose homes he had made deliveries to.
Media reports said that 17 other delivery personnel, who had come in contact with the infected agent have also been isolated at a facility in Chattarpur. But, so far, the infected person’s coworkers have tested negative for coronavirus, Zomato said in a statement.
“We are not sure whether the rider was infected at the time of delivery. The restaurant had instructed their riders to wear masks, and follow strict hygiene to keep customers safe from any unintended mishap,” the statement said.
Although Zomato did not name the restaurant where the delivery agent worked, cloud kitchen Box8 put out a statement saying one of its delivery partners in the same neighbourhood of Delhi had tested positive for coronavirus.
“...we have shut down the Malviya Nagar kitchen in South Delhi for the next 14 days. Any further steps taken will be under the guidance of the authorities,” Box8 said.
The news comes against the backdrop of a nationwide shutdown in India that endeavours to prevent the community spread of the coronavirus. Home-deliveries have become essential lifelines for a lot of at-risk people, such as the elderly, patients with pre-existing respiratory conditions, and compromised immune systems, among others.
Food delivery companies like Swiggy and Zomato, along with some restaurants that have their own delivery systems like Domino’s Pizza – had, at the outset of the pandemic, introduced a ‘no contact’ delivery option.
This means customers can choose to have their parcels left outside their homes to maintain a safe distance from delivery agents, thereby reducing their chances of catching the contagious coronavirus.
Companies have also been strictly instructing their delivery partners to sanitise regularly, cover their mouths, and get checked for spikes in body temperature frequently. However, several customers have complained that these rules are not being followed.
“A couple of days ago, I placed an order on Zomato. The delivery boy was not wearing a mask or using gloves. When asked why so, he said Zomato does not provide (those items),” a user posted on Twitter.
Are home-deliveries safe?
Health authorities around the world have said home deliveries are safer than people venturing out, especially for those more susceptible to catching diseases.
“Chances of transmission of the coronavirus through packages are quite low. If you are really concerned, clean the package from outside with an antiseptic solution,” Dr Randeep Guleria, Director at Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences, had said in a media interaction in March, adding “chances of transmission of the coronavirus through packages are quite low.”
Recent testing has shown that the coronavirus can survive on cardboard for up to 24 hours, and up to three days on plastic and stainless steel, according to a study conducted by the National Institutes of Health, CDC, UCLA, and Princeton University Scientists.
That can be dealt with simply by cleaning the package from outside with an antiseptic solution, says Dr Guleria.
Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta