How Koyambedu market became a COVID-19 super-spreader

With the shutting of Koyambedu market due to COVID-19, the lives of over 20,000 families of workers, and traders are in dire straits. | Image - Immayabharathi K

Panic gripped Inbaraj when the police took scores of daily wage labourers engaged in loading and unloading vegetables and fruits from Chennai’s Koyambedu market for COVID-19 testing in early May.

Since the lockdown was imposed on March 24, the scene at Asia’s largest perishable goods market had been scary. He has been striving hard for a meal. “Even drinking water suppliers avoided coming to Koyambedu fearing that they might contract the disease, leaving us high and dry,” he says.

In mid-April, Inbaraj and his co-workers ordered food from a restaurant run by their owner’s brother. But they never repeated it as each meal cost ₹100.

Despite knowing that he would soon go broke if he returned to his native......