Susan Isiko Štrba, Migrants, health and Economic effects of COVID-19 (2), 25 April 2020
It has been acknowledged that the Coronavirus knows no boundaries and respects no persons. Obviously, it has spread to and through migrants as well. While it would not be correct to say that all migrant workers are particularly disadvantaged when it comes to dealing with Covid-19, it is fair to say that many fall under the vulnerable group.
While Covid-19 might have had a negative health and economic impact on everyone, migrants are hard hit. It is enough to mention a few examples. In Singapore, it is reported by Noeleen Heyzer that the second wave of infection is mainly due to migrant workers, especially those concentrated in dormitories. As Nancy Berlinger and several others point out, immigrants and other members of low-wage workforce continue to use mass transportation to commute to hourly-wage jobs that cannot be done through telecommuting. Respecting social distancing may not be realistic for this kind of people. Migrant labour is backbone to several developed countries, and at the same time indispensable to the immigrant and her country of origin. For example, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), just last year migrants spent over US$500 billion in remittances.
This rather marginalized group is very important to the fight against Covid-19. But the pandemic has only highlighted an already existing problem - policy makers need to pay particular attention to the migrants. Otherwise, it is just a matter of time before everyone else pays for their neglect.