Most guest workers, with proximity to clusters and bad health conditions, could be asymptomatic carriers of virus
Hyderabad: Positivity rate for Covid-19 in guest workers is more than 20 per cent in India due to lack of immunity and malnutrition, which is an ever present problem among the underprivileged sections of society.
In the states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, the rate of positivity is as high as 26 per cent, while in states of south India the positivity is low at 3 to 4 per cent.
The accommodation that guest labourers can afford on their meagre salaries is limited. 10-15 people are crammed into one living space, living, sleeping and eating in cramped spaces where social distancing is close to none. While distancing is one of the major factors for controlling the infection, it’s something impossible for guest workers to observe it in cities when the lockdown does not permit them to even sit outside.
Dr KK Aggarwal, former president of the Indian Medical Association, said guest labourers, living or having lived close by urban clusters, have a possibility to be asymptomatic carriers of Covid-19.
“Testing and isolating them is important so that the infection does not spread further. Many of them will have only mild symptoms and they will not require hospitalisation. They are a most vulnerable and exposed population and they have to be duly protected and respected,” Dr Aggarwal said.
Dr Mustufa Afzal, senior infectious disease specialist with Care Hospitals, says, “Most workers are asymptomatic carriers which is the main cause of infection. They have walked long distance without proper food and water. Shelter was only close to the highways or railway tracks. Many of them are middle-aged and may not be aware of having a medical condition such as hypertension and diabetes. These factors are now coming to the fore once they contract the infection. Hence the rate of positivity is high in them.”