India coronavirus cases rise as millions return home

At least 4.5 million workers had returned home from economic hubs in the two months of lockdown. (File/AFP)
Short Url
Updated 26 May 2020

India coronavirus cases rise as millions return home

  • At least 4.5 million workers had migrated home from economic hubs in the two months of lockdown
  • India had recorded a total 145,380 infections and a death toll of 4,167

MUMBAI: Indian states witnessing millions of migrant laborers returning from the big cities are recording rising coronavirus infections, officials said on Tuesday, fearing that the pandemic could spread through villages where medical care is basic at best.
Officials from the home and railway ministries said at least 4.5 million workers had migrated home from economic hubs in the two months since Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared a lockdown.
On Tuesday, India had recorded a total 145,380 infections and a death toll of 4,167, low figures for the world’s second-most populous country when compared with some countries in Europe.
But the eastern state of Bihar registered more than 160 infections on Monday, its highest one-day rise, taking its tally to more than 2,700 cases. In the past 36 hours, more than 75 people tested positive in Odisha and 35 in three isolation homes in the desert state of Rajasthan.
The latest cases have forced authorities to stretch limited testing resources.
“Dozens of laborers who traveled from New Delhi have tested positive. We are ensuring that no one enters their village with this infection,” said Gaurav Sinha, a senior health official in Bihar’s capital, Patna.
Economists studying reverse migration patterns said India’s poorest migrant laborers have been the worst hit by the lockdown. TV footage early in the crisis showed police beating migrant workers as they tried to board city buses to reach their villages, making a mockery of social distancing.
On May 1, the government responded to rising public opposition to the migrant crisis by allowing special trains to take workers back to their home states.
But millions of workers without jobs or money are still waiting to reach home.
“The migrant crisis exposes the spatial fault-lines of India’s development,” wrote Sai Balakrishnan, an assistant professor at Harvard University, in the Mint newspaper.


Russia announces coronavirus deaths exceed 10,000

Updated 12 min 29 sec ago

Russia announces coronavirus deaths exceed 10,000

  • Russia has confirmed 674,515 cases, the third largest total in the world, although the daily infection rate has been falling over the last month
MOSCOW: Russia on Saturday said that it recorded more than 10,000 deaths from the coronavirus pandemic, a toll that is still far lower than in other countries with major outbreaks.
The number of deaths has now reached 10,027, the government information website said, up by 168 from Friday.
Russia has confirmed 674,515 cases, the third largest total in the world, although the daily infection rate has been falling over the last month.
The country’s death toll is much lower than in other countries with large outbreaks, raising questions over possible underreporting of deaths.
Russia has acknowledged that the death figure on the government website only includes cases where the virus was classed as the main cause of death on the death certificate.
The official statistics agency has released national death data for April alone, where the toll — of 2,712 — is more than double the government’s total of 1,152 for that month.
That is because it uses a broader definition on the basis of World Health Organization recommendations and includes cases where the victim tested positive but the virus was not classified as the main cause of death, or where there was no positive test but an autopsy ruled the virus was the main cause of death.
Moscow city health department also released data on deaths in May using this method of classification, showing 5,260 virus-related deaths that month.
By contrast, the government website still says that some 3,929 people in total have died so far from the virus just in Moscow.