More than one lakh Bangladeshi migrant workers in the Maldives are passing an extremely inhumane life as companies and employers of the Island nation kept them unpaid amid coronavirus lockdown.
Being financially crippled, the migrant workers are now living in teeming alleys that are a haven for the virus.
The Maldives confirmed a community spread in mid-April, and while the greater Male region was immediately placed on lockdown, and authorities began lockdown easing in late May.
Sources said companies and employers in the Maldives stopped paying workers’ wages since the authorities imposed lockdown to fight against the coronavirus.
Bangladeshi workers alleged that their employers are threatening to send them back if they want arrears.
Zakir Hossain, 39, who had worked in a Male restaurant until shutdown, said he has not been paid for more than three months.
“We are facing immense hardship as we are not paid for months,” he told media.
He also said that all the Bangladeshi workers live in congested conditions and share rooms and even beds between shifts. “Now we are also worried about the disease.”
The Maldives is heavily depending on foreign labour, mostly covered from Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka, to run its resorts, hotels and restaurants.
As resorts and hotel chains shut down business following the government’s declaration of an indefinite lockdown and a ban on incoming tourists, resort workers were forced to take unpaid leave.
Anwar Hosain, a 42-year-old Bangladeshi carpenter in the Maldives, said his employer has held of his salary since the lockdown was imposed in the Island nation. I need money to survive and maintain my family at homeland. “My wife calls me every day and cries. What can I do?”
Recently, some 39 Bangladeshi expatriate workers have been detained in the Maldives during a protest demanding payment of due wages. The incident took place in Hulhumale Island. About 700 expatriate Bangladeshis,
Bangladesh is currently ranked as the 16th worst-hit country. The country reported its first coronavirus cases on March 8 and the first death on March 18.
Meanwhile, among the new deceased, 30 were men and five were women. Twenty-nine of them died at hospitals and six at home.
“Fourteen died in Dhaka division, eight in Chattogram, eight in Khulna, Rajshahi, Sylhet, Rangpur divisions, one in Mymensingh and four more died in Barishal division,” Dr Nasima said.
One of them was aged between 21 and 30 years, one between 31 and 40, six between 41 and 50, seven between 51 and 60, 12 between 61 and 70, seven between 71 and 80 and one other aged between 81 and 90 years.
At present, 18,669 people are in isolation – 57,244 at home and institutionally quarantined.
WHO has described the Covid-19 as ‘first wave’, not just seasonal. The UN health agency said the Covid-19 virus is likely not impacted by the changing seasons like other respiratory diseases.
It also urged to take measures for physical distancing to stop it from spreading.
WHO spokesperson Dr Margaret Harris said the season does not seem to be affecting the transmission of this virus.
“What is affecting the transmission is mass gatherings, it’s people coming together, and people, not social distancing, not taking the precautions to ensure they are not in close contact,” she said.
Harris said “it’s going to be one big wave” and that it’s “going to go up and down a bit …the best thing is to flatten it”.
Coronavirus cases were first reported in China in December last year. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared it a pandemic in March.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Monday said the global COVID-19 cases had doubled over the past six weeks. At a virtual press conference, he said that almost 16 million cases have now been reported to WHO, with more than 640,000 deaths worldwide.
“This is the sixth time a global health emergency has been declared under the International Health Regulations, but it is easily the most severe,” he said.
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