An unauthorised market run by migrants in Sonapur, UAE
An unauthorised market run by migrants in Sonapur, UAE|Photo credit: Rejimon Kuttappan
Kerala

How Dubai Is Spreading Coronavirus In Kerala

Out of the 63 cases recorded in Kerala on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, 44 are imported from Dubai

Rejimon Kuttappan

Rejimon Kuttappan

Why are the majority of the Coronavirus cases reported in Kerala imported from the Arab Gulf, especially from the United Arab Emirates (UAE)?

Talking to Indians in UAE, The Lede has found the answer.

On Tuesday, 14 fresh Coronavirus cases were reported in Kerala and according to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, out of the 14, eight are imported cases from Dubai.

And on Monday, he had said that out of the 30 fresh cases reported in Kerala, 27 were imported ones from Dubai.

On Sunday, 19 cases were reported and out of that nine were from Dubai.

As per Tuesday evening, there are 105 Coronavirus cases in Kerala.

“Keralites, especially those from Kasaragod are concentrated in the Deira Naif area. They run small textile businesses mainly. And they live in cramped accommodations. We doubt that there has been a sort of spread among them. This might be the reason that all who travelled from Naif to Kasaragod are testing positive,” an Indian social worker in Dubai told The Lede.

On March 20, Kasaragod District Collector Dr D Sajith Babu had also urged those who have returned to their hometown from Dubai’s Naif to attend local health centres immediately.

“Several Kasaragod based people are staying in Naif. Some of them have returned home. Those who returned after February 20 should attend local primary health centres,” he had said.

Talking to The Lede over the phone from Dubai, a Keralite who knows Ameer A and his friends said that “the situation which is unfolding is quite scary.”

Ameer A, the patient belonging to Eriyaal village near Palliyara in Kasaragod, had arrived from Dubai On March 11.

He tested positive on March 19 and was quarantined.

In the interim eight days, Ameer had attended marriage functions, football competitions and had also hugged and shaken hands with two MLAs, who are now in self-isolation at their homes.

Ameer’s travel and meetings has put many in Kasaragod and its neighbouring district Kannur at very high risk.

“There were 10 people in Ameer’s room. Ameer’s many friends had gone to Kasaragod in the next few days. While some had gone home directly, others had reported properly at the airport and got admitted to hospitals. Those who had gone home fooling the medics at the airport have given the disease to their relatives and neighbours,” the Keralite, who requested anonymity, said.

The Lede had reported Ameer’s ‘strange case’ in detail on March 22.

Meanwhile, a social worker in the UAE said that the situation in Naif is going to be a real threat to India and the UAE.

“Thousands are living in and around the Naif area. If we go by what experts are saying, then, definitely an outbreak is going to happen in that area,” the social worker said.

Mismatch In Numbers

According to UAE’s official news agency, the country announced 50 new cases of the COVID-19 infection on Tuesday. The total number of confirmed cases in the UAE now stands at 248.

The newly diagnosed cases were among individuals who had close contact with previously infected patients as well as those who returned from abroad.

Of the new infected, one each hails from Sri Lanka, the UK, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Tunisia, South Africa, Belgium, South Korea, Bulgaria, France, Czech Republic, Australia, Lebanon, Kenya, Maldives, Sudan, Iran, Ireland, Morocco, Pakistan, and Sweden; two each from Italy, Egypt, UAE, Spain, Netherlands, Jordan, the Philippines; and three each from the US, Bangladesh, and Palestine.

The UAE says that only six Indians are infected.

However, a social worker alleged that the UAE is ‘hiding’ the numbers.

“Let us take the number of imported cases in Kerala recorded during the last three days. It is 62. So, how can UAE say that there are only six cases reported among Indians,” the social worker added.

Two deaths have already been reported in the UAE.

Meanwhile, the social worker said that workers’ accommodation is not spacious and hygienic as presumed.

“There are camps where 5000 workers will be accommodated. Workers will be forced to share unhygienic common toilets. And in a room of 10, there would be at least 20 squeezing in. Even the kitchens will be untidy,” the social worker added.

An Indian in UAE told The Lede that even the Indian embassy in UAE and other official and unofficial agencies failed to act in a timely manner.

“If they had initiated a campaign like Break The Chain in Kerala here too, we could have avoided this spread. Now, we don’t know how to deal with the situation. It is out of our hands,” the Indian added.

On March 05, The Lede had reported first that Indians in the Arab Gulf are at high risk of contracting the disease due to the conditions of workers camps.

According to the Indian, many Indians who cannot afford the Dh 80 (approximately Rs 1700) would be skipping the tests.

“Additionally, they also are afraid of the UAE government. Many are scared of what will happen if they are tested positive,” the Indian said.

Dubai police have urged people to stay at home and have announced that non-compliance with safety measures will lead to imprisonment and/or a fine of between Dh 200,000 and Dh 1 million (Rs 2 crore).

The total number of active patients in Kerala is now 105. A total of 72,460 persons are under observation in Kerala, out of the 466 are in hospitals. The rest are at their homes. On Tuesday, 164 people were admitted to hospitals. So far, 4516 samples were sent for testing, and 3331 of them returned as negative.

The Lede
www.thelede.in