Despite concerns that reverse migration of workers from urban centres to rural hometowns would enable spread of the coronavirus, data out of four key states so far has not substantiated this fear.
The concern was because metros like Delhi, Indore, Mumbai, Pune and Chennai continue to be containment zones, recording the highest number of positive cases. It was feared that migrants moving from these cities would carry the virus to relatively unaffected areas of the country.
As per data, however, the fears were largely overstated.
For example, Uttar Pradesh saw 25 lakh migrants return. But, till June 11 positive COVID-19 cases numbered at 12,088 – of which an even lesser 3,303 were out-of-state migrants, says a report by The Economic Times. The state tested 101,071 migrants till July 11 – which means the positivity rate is 3.26 percent.
Principal Health Secretary Amit Mohan Prasad said as per the report that they selected 72 villages from 28 districts and collected samples from other villagers 15-20 days after the migrants returned. “This was to check whether they spread the virus to other villagers. We found no such spread,” he said.
Follow our LIVE Updates on the coronavirus pandemic here
In Bihar, which saw 30 lakh migrants return, 3,989 (among those who came in till May 3), confirmed positive for COVID-19 till June 10. The state has so far recorded 5,583 confirmed cases – so migrants make up 71 percent of cases, but it undertook institutional quarantine of 14.3 lakh returnees to check spread of the virus.
Deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi said as per the report that the state made a list of 11 highly affected cities and made institutional quarantine mandatory. “Even after reaching home they were monitored. Rural areas are not crowded like cities … less chance of infection spreading … it was easier to manage the exercise given our experience of managing flood relief,” he said.
For Chhattisgarh, around 380,000 people have returned and the state expects another 120,000 to enter from other states. State health minister TS Singh Deo said that they anticipated higher number of cases once migrants arrived, but “barring few slippage during home quarantine, the situation is under control.”
Jharkhand has been the sole exception, with migrant influx directly impacting the states’ COVID-19 numbers. Till June 10, the state had 1,551 cases – 1,186 of these are migrants who came in till May 2. State health secretary Nitin Kulkarni said they tested 69,910 samples, out of which 1,186 were positive.” He added, “Rising numbers are not a concern. It’s good that we are able to trace more people.”Follow our full COVID-19 coverage here