In its report ’ South Asia Economic Update: Impact of COVID-19’ released on Sunday, the World Bank said that South Asia is one of the highest population density areas in the world, particularly urban areas and that preventing domestic coronavirus transmission is an enormous challenge in the region.
Due to the high population density, the transmission of the disease is higher especially among the most vulnerable people like slum dwellers and migrant workers, the report said.
The World Bank also said that lockdown policies have affected a number of migrant workers as most of them now do not have any work in urban areas.
The lockdown has forced many migrant workers to go back to their homes mostly on foot back to their villages thereby increasing the crowding and making enforcement of social distancing impossible.
Migrants face a stark choice between potentially starving in urban centres without work or long and potentially fatal journeys over hundreds of miles to their home districts, it said
The World Bank urged the government to use available big data and digital data to analyse patterns of reverse migration and movement around the country and to identify potential hot-spots.
“If not possible to prevent reverse migration to rural districts via urban-centred social protection programs, governments should consider immediate assistance to migrants to limit suffering and loss of life during the strenuous long-distance journeys, by providing information and food and water to journeying migrants,” it added
“Preliminary findings indicate that in India, high-outmigration areas are more likely to have COVID-19 cases,” the World Bank said.
It also urged the government to direct early resources to high-risk areas as defined by high-migration corridors, including medical equipment and staff.