Kerala allows coronavirus-positive migrant laborers to work, if they're asymptomatic
Even as the number of coronavirus infections continues to rise across India, the Kerala government has allowed migrant laborers to work if they have COVID-19 but are not exhibiting symptoms. The laborers will be allowed to continue work in areas "exclusively marked" for them, separate from other healthy workers. Worryingly, asymptomatic COVID-19 cases have also been found to be fatal in some instances.
Here is what the government's order stated
An order issued by Satyajeet Rajan, Additional Chief Secretary of Labor Department stated, "If they are asymptomatic positive, then they may work in the areas exclusively marked for the work to be done by the asymptomatic positive workers by taking all precautions." The order was issued on the direction of Additional Chief Secretary (Industries) Alkesh Kumar Sharma IAS amid a delay in infrastructure projects.
Asymptomatic workers shouldn't mix with others, say guidelines
According to the guidelines, asymptomatic workers should not mix with other workers/officers when they are on duty. If asymptomatic workers develop symptoms of fever, cough, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of smell or breathlessness, after testing positive, they should be referred to a COVID-19 hospital or DISHA. Their accommodation and food arrangements have to be made as per COVID First-Line Treatment Center guidelines.
Migrant workers arriving in Kerala to face 14-day quarantine
Further, the other stated that migrant laborers arriving in Kerala should be quarantined for 14 days. Those who arrive without a testing certificate may undergo testing on the fifth day via an antigen test. The cost for the same shall be borne by the contractor. If found positive, the workers must be segregated. Registration on the COVID-19 Jagratha portal is mandatory, the order added.
Asymptomatic cases could also be fatal
Asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 have been known to fall seriously unwell. In some cases, patients infected with the disease also die without exhibiting symptoms. Some individuals have notably tested positive for the virus posthumously. Further, the disease is known to cause damage to a person's lungs and heart, even in asymptomatic cases, which could prove to be risky during laborious tasks.
'Die of COVID or die of poverty'
Meanwhile, social activist and development economist KP Kannan told The News Minute, "But, it is either a situation of 'die of COVID-19', which is a small probability, or 'die of poverty' for these guest workers." Kannan added, "We have reached a situation where people will start to feel the pinch, disregard all precautions and just go for work because they want to live."
'Not sure how this order will be practical'
Benoy Peter, Executive Director of the Center for Migration and Inclusive Development, told the publication, "I am not sure how this will be practical to demarcate special zones for such patients in work areas." Peter added, "But there is clearly desperation on the part of migrant workers to come back to Kerala for work. The months-long lockdown has affected them severely."