22,000 migrant workers stuck in Kashmir due to COVID-19

Srinagar, March 31: In the wake of growing COVID-19 cases in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir, many migrant workers who are stuck in the region are making desperate appeals to the authorities for food and transportation.
Musharraf Shareef, a worker from the eastern Indian state of Bihar is stuck in Srinagar, the main city of the region, with a group of over seven people who have no food and money, and are fending for themselves.
Shareef is among many other migrant workers stuck in the region after a lockdown was announced by the government in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak.
“We earn from our day labour and then eat. When you do not have any means of income due to the lockdown, it is hard to survive in such conditions.
“Before coronavirus, it is the hunger which will kill us,” Shareef told media.
Although the government in the region on Sunday started a helpline to provide help and assistance to these workers, many of these are still unable to make a call as their phones have become defunct.
“We can’t make a call from our phones now, we have no recharge. Only a small amount of money is left, and if we use it for other purpose than food, we will starve and die,” Muskeen Abbas, another worker told media.
The desperation to survive in the present crisis can be gauged when a group of 25 workers last Friday walked 100 kilometers (62.1 miles) overnight from South Kashmir’s Shopian district to Surankote in the Poonch area of Jammu region.
But after reaching there, the district administration put all of them under the required quarantine to avoid possible contraction or transmission of the virus.
An official of the labor department of the region said that they cannot allow anyone of these workers to move as they can easily become carriers of the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
The pandemic in the region has a seen a surge from last six days taking the tally to 48 cases from initial 13 cases reported last Wednesday. Over 6,000 patients have been put under observation, while two have died, and other two have recovered so far.
The coronavirus emerged in Wuhan, China last December and has spread to at least 177 countries and territories.
The number of confirmed cases worldwide has now surpassed 732,000, while the death toll is more than 34,600, and over 154,600 have recovered, according to data compiled by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.
Despite the rising number of cases, most who become infected suffer only mild symptoms and recover.

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