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‘Life is precious’: India’s migrant workers flee COVID-hit cities

Aljazeera, India, 29 April 2021 - Amid India’s COVID-19 crisis, migrant workers are abandoning cities and heading for their villages in droves in a repeat of last year’s exodus when the lockdown shut industries and left them jobless – but this time they are worried about safety.

India on Thursday reported 379,257 new COVID-19 cases and 3,645 new deaths, according to health ministry data. It was the country’s highest number of deaths reported in a single day since the start of the pandemic.

With more than 18 million people infected, several cities, including the national capital New Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Surat and Bengaluru have been put under lockdown.

Healthcare facilities have been overwhelmed, with hospitals overrun and shortages of oxygen, medical supplies and hospital staff.

“I was reading about all the cases and the deaths and getting worried. I still had work but I didn’t want to stay in the city,” said Sanjit Kumar, 30, who left Surat in western India last week on a train for his village in eastern Bihar.

“Last year I had gone back on a truck. But this time, I didn’t want to wait for a complete lockdown. I was getting scared looking at messages of deaths on WhatsApp,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from his village.

“Life is precious for everyone.”



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