The pizza delivery employee who tested positive for COVID-19, following which 72 houses in South Delhi were quarantined, had cough and fatigue but no fever since March 20, but since he had no history of international travel or known contact with a patient, he continued to deliver food, officials said.
The Indian Express had reported on Thursday about the precautionary measures taken after the man tested positive. Seventeen coworkers have also been put under quarantine.
“He delivered pizzas to 72 houses in a 5-km radius in South Delhi, including Malviya Nagar and Hauz Rani. It is possible he contracted the disease while delivering to one of the houses,” said B M Mishra, District Magistrate, South Delhi.
Those under quarantine are being screened, he said. “All of them are under home quarantine, and will be tested if they develop symptoms,” Mishra said.
Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain also confirmed the development.
The man is a resident of Savitri Nagar, a small neighbourhood adjacent to Sheikh Sarai and Malviya Nagar. He worked for a relatively new restaurant chain, which has a pizza parlour as a subsidiary. The restaurant’s Malviya Nagar branch has been shut for 14 days and sanitation has been carried out in the area.
“He was symptomatic for almost a month. He said he had started feeling fatigued and had a persistent cough since March 20, but continued to work till April 12-13. Since he had no history of travel and contact, he had no reason to believe he had COVID-19. He tested positive on April 14,” Mishra said.
While a few areas in both Hauz Rani and Malviya Nagar have already been declared containment zones, another area in Hauz Rani (near Mother Dairy) was added to the list on Thursday.
The administration has contacted all people whom he delivered food to starting early March.
According to officials, the man decided to eventually get tested as his symptoms persisted. “He went to Safdarjung demanding that he be tested, and told them he delivered food and was at risk. He was then sent to RML Hospital for tests,” an official said.
Home delivery of food and groceries is permitted during the lockdown.
Food delivery app Zomato, meanwhile, issued a statement saying the man had delivered some orders placed from their app as well. “Some of these orders delivered by the restaurant staff were placed on Zomato. We are not sure whether the rider was infected at the time of delivery. This restaurant has instructed their riders to wear masks and follow strict hygiene to keep customers safe from any unintended mishap…,” Zomato said.
The restaurant where the man works also issued a statement saying they were following safety measures and giving masks and gloves to employees. “After all precautions and vigilance… a delivery partner of our Malviya Nagar kitchen had tested positive yesterday… The delivery partner has been keeping well and getting required medical attention… We stand by him and are doing everything to support him,” it said, adding that all staff will continue to be paid their salaries.