Bahrain's Successes in Fighting Coronavirus at Risk
2020-04-27 - 2:33 am
Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): The first phase of success that Bahrain has achieved in its fight against the Coronavirus pandemic is seriously under threat, with the increase in infections amongst expatriates who already suffer from difficult conditions and exploitation by their employers.
"We have so far succeeded in reducing the spread of the virus among citizens, but our efforts so far to fight it among expatriates have not been successful," said a medical care frontline worker.
Since Bahrain established the National Taskforce for Combating the Coronavirus, the total number of infections has reached 2,217, and the number of recoveries so far has amounted to 1,082. However, the numbers are no longer decreasing. They are increasing for the sole reason that the virus is spreading significantly among expatriates.
The expatriates that account for more than 500,000 workers are not to blame. Their poor humanitarian situations are to be blamed, and the owners of large companies who allowed leaving them in these conditions, as these workers live in small and dilapidated rooms, where at least nine people live in the same room.
The number of infected cases is now 1,127 in Bahrain, 90% of which are among expatriates.
Nearly two days ago, about 400 workers from two companies only were referred for examination in one day. The medical staff were asked to give them urgent tests. Those who tested positive were transferred for isolation, and the others were sent to undergo house quarantine, which means returning to their stacked rooms.
"There is no use", says one of the workers in the fight against the epidemic. "The problem of leaving the expatriates' conditions like this without a real solution, and without holding those who brought them responsible, will make us witness the health system which has been coherent so far lose its ability to withstand the epidemic," he adds.
According to ministry of health, each test conducted to check if the person has contracted the coronavirus costs BD 148 ($400) without counting the operational cost of the medical staff, noting that Bahrain conducts two screenings for each person suspected of having the virus, which constitutes a financial burden, especially in light of the decision of the National Campaign Administration to initiate random checks on a daily basis for citizens and expatriates.
What is the solution now amid the outbreak of Coronavirus among these expatriates? On March 23, 2020, a number of Bahraini MPs made an urgent proposal which suggests that the government, represented by the Labour Market Regulatory Authority, grants no-contract labor workers time to correct their illegal status and leave Bahrain to prevent the spread of the virus. However, this proposal has not been passed by the Government or the commercial sector, who haven't provided practical solutions on their part either. Correcting the conditions of expatriates is the first necessary step, and ensuring that workers live in appropriate conditions is certainly the responsibility of the authorities. However, the solutions that now exist are only minimal and will undoubtedly increase losses.