Rapid testing is underway at fruit and vegetable markets nationwide, as local governments fight to contain the spread of COVID. The precautions are coming after an outbreak at wholesale markets run by Taipei Agricultural Products Marketing Corporation, Taiwan''s largest wholesale market and packaging center for produce.Thousands of market employees and vendors have already been tested in New Taipei, Taichung, Yunlin, and Changhua, and all the tests have come back negative so far.

At this wholesale produce market in Taichung, there’s a long line of people waiting to get a rapid COVID test. A test is required for every person who regularly enters the facility.

Taichung produce market worker
I’m actually waiting right now. I don’t know how long it will be before it’s my turn. Like I’m already off work for the day. But I’m still waiting here. Whatever, they say get tested, so we get tested. That’s fine.

Even as it took time out of their day, the market workers were the picture of cooperation in the campaign to ward off a cluster infection.

In Taichung, seven major wholesale markets are conducting rapid screening on vendors, porters, and drivers. As of noon on Wednesday, all 1,359 people tested had gotten a negative result. Over at the Xiluo Agricultural Products Market in Yunlin County, 212 people have been screened, and all have tested negative. At Changhua’s wholesale market in Xihu Township, testing is underway on 501 workers, including 40 truck drivers and cargo handlers who had recently been to Taipei, the cluster’s epicenter.

All over the country, wholesale markets are screening their staff after the outbreak at Taipei Agricultural Products Marketing Corporation. In New Taipei, which borders Taipei City, precautions were taken at top speed, with markets in Sanchong and Banqiao fully screened in a day. A total of 3,627 people were tested. Vaccinations began on Wednesday.

Hou Yu-ih
New Taipei mayor
New Taipei has registered 2,200 people for this first wave of vaccination. If you work in a fruit and vegetable market, or if you are a vendor, then you’re one of the 2,200 people, and you can get vaccinated starting today. By this afternoon, 908 people were vaccinated.

Local governments are racing to vaccinate, to keep their wholesale markets from becoming the next vector of the virus.