COVID-19 : States Prepare Migrant Movement Plans

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A group of migrant workers walk to their villages amid the nationwide complete lockdown, on the NH24 near Delhi-UP Border in New Delhi (Photo: PTI)

 Centre says recovery rate up at over 25

New Delhi- Authorities across states on Thursday began preparations to help lakhs of migrant workers and students reach their homes from different parts of the country where they are stranded for over a month due to the COVID-19 lockdown, even as the deadly virus infection spread further to take the nationwide tally of positive cases to over 33,600 and the death toll neared 1,100.

The Union Home Ministry, however, said the recovery rate of COVID-19 patients has also improved to nearly 25.2 per cent, from about 13 per cent a fortnight ago.

As people waited for further clarity on the government’s next move on the nationwide lockdown, whose second phase ends this Sunday, former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan said India should open up up its economy in a measured way soon to save jobs and estimated that Rs 65,000 crore would need to be spent to support the poor amid the crisis.

Interacting with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi through video conferencing, Rajan said it is “all too easy to have a lockdown forever”, but that is not sustainable for the economy and India does not have the capacity to support people across the spectrum for too long.

A nationwide lockdown has been in place Since March 25. First it was announced for 21 days till April 14, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi later extended it till May 3 to contain the coronovirus pandemic.

In its evening update, the Union Health Ministry said 1,075 people have died due to COVID-19 so far across the country after 67 deaths were reported since Wednesday evening. The number of cases has increased to 33,610, including 1,823 new cases detected in the last 24 hours.

However, a PTI tally of the death toll reported by various states and union territories, as of 6.45 PM, showed at least 1,093 people have lost their lives.

There are more than 24,000 active patients across the country, while more than 8,300 people have recovered and one patient has migrated. The total number of cases include 111 foreign nationals.

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said India is doing better compared to other countries on all parameters in its fight against COVID-19 and should be able to win this decisive war in the coming few weeks.

About 60,000 foreign nationals from 72 countries have also been evacuated from India, while the issue of evacuation of Indians stranded abroad is also under discussion, according to the Ministry of External Affairs.

Among states, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Karnataka and West Bengal have reported new cases, while more people have died in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal, among other places since Wednesday evening.

At a press briefing on the COVID-19 situation, Health Ministry’s Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal said that the current fatality rate among detected is 3.2 per cent, with 65 per cent being males and 35 per cent females.

“If we divide it on the basis of age, then 14 per cent fatality has been seen in those aged below 45 years, 34.8 per cent between 45-60 years and 51.2 per cent in those above 60 years,” he said.

Agarwal further said that the recovery rate for COVID-19 has improved from 13.06 per cent to over 25 per cent in the past 14 days.

Agarwal also said the doubling rate for COVID-19 cases has improved to 11 days as against 3.4 days before the lockdown was imposed.

Several states, in the meantime, announced steps they were taking for facilitating the movement of migrant workers and students, stranded in various cities due to the lockdown, to help them reach their respective native places, in line with the Union Home Ministry guidelines announced on Wednesday. Some states have already brought back some migrant workers from other places.

The Madhya Pradesh government said it has brought back over 20,000 migrant labourers, who were stranded in other states due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath asked officials to ready quarantine centres, shelter homes and community kitchens as the state readied for the return of migrant workers stranded in different parts of the country.

Maharashtra issued a notification designating all the district collectors as the nodal authority for the movement of stranded people into or outside the state and also within the state, While the Gujarat government appointed 16 bureaucrats as nodal officers to facilitate the movement of such people across borders.

The Kerala government renewed its demand for special non-stop trains to transport those who are keen to leave for their respective states. There are 3.60 lakh workers in over 20,000 camps in the state and majority of them, hailing from West Bengal, Assam, Odisha, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, wanted to return home.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh also urged the prime minister to arrange special trains for transportation of migrant workers, while he directed all deputy commissioners to prepare data of migrant labourers stranded in the state due to the lockdown.

As per the Union Home ministry order, buses would be used for transporting the stranded persons and these vehicles would be sanitised and will have to follow safe social distancing norms on seating. A senior official said all states and UTs will have to “strictly follow” these guidelines.

While the movement of trucks is already allowed for transportation of goods during the lockdown, the Ministry separately clarified that no separate passes are required for their inter-state movement, including for those carrying goods or returning after delivery, and licence of the driver is enough.

There have been reports that movement of trucks is not allowed freely and local authorities insist upon separate passes at inter-state borders in different parts of the country.

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Press Trust of India

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