A Different Side Of Total Lockdown: The Cost Of Quarantine That Lower Class Cannot Afford

Bhavna Acharya |Apr 01, 2020

74 million of the Indian population are struggling during the total lockdown without money, running water and a private toilet is just beyond imagination. Read the story below!

While you’re getting bored of being isolated inside your comfort house, not knowing whether to take another nap or have a tasty brunch, there are millions of people out there struggling desperately amid the total lockdown. The Jeetender Mahender case is an example. The daily wage worker who lives in the Valmiki slum of Mumbai lost his job as the lockdown happened. His family was a tiny single room without a private toilet and even running water. As he cannot go to work, his family is running out of food.

Migrant Workers Quarantine Lockdown Slums In Mumba
one-sixth of India urban population is living inside tiny slum without running water and toilet

Quarantine is impossible to slum dwellers

Social distancing can help prevent the spread of coronavirus. But a 21-day lockdown is only possible for those who live in comfy houses and apartments with a well-stocked fridge and work from home. For poor workers who live in slums and are struggling to make ends meet like Jeetender, quarantine is economically and physically impossible. 

Although the total lockdown has a huge impact on society, the poor workers and the homeless are the most vulnerable. In fact, more than 74 million people are living in jam-packed slums in the city outskirts, living under the standard with poor infrastructure that no one can imagine. When hundreds of people share the same toilet, the risk of virus transmission is obvious. That’s why migrant workers who live in these slums are trying in vain to get back home even when all public transportation has been stopped. 

Also read: A 39-Year-Old Migrant Worker Died On His Way Back To Home During Coronavirus Lockdown

Migrant Workers Quarantine Total Lockdown
Millions of workers decided to flee away from their slums before the total lockdown

Jam-packed slums are home for coronavirus outbreak

While the key to preventing virus transmission is keeping hygiene, there is no running water in slums. That’s why they need to leave home in the early morning to the water tank which is around 100 away from home. Sia, a migrant worker who lives in a slum in New Delhi, says that she shares the water tank with 70 other people. They wash together in the morning and bring some home. 

Migrant Workers Quarantine Total Lockdown 4
Inside a tiny house of a migrant worker in Mumbai

Earlier, the government announced a so-called  Clean India Mission which was aimed to build in-house toilets for all Indian citizens. However, it turned out that slums which are the shelter of one-sixth of the urban population were not included. It was estimated that 1,440 people in Dharavi, Mumbai share a single toilet while two-third of the public toilets lack water. Given the fact that coronavirus can contract through a patient's feces, using a community toilet is definitely a big deal. 

Also read: Migrant Workers To Self-quarantine On A Banyan Tree Amid India Lockdown

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Public toilets are the deadly threat to slum dwellers' health

Migrant workers are in an agonizing dilemma

Leave it aside from the public toilet issue, even when these workers have better living conditions, they cannot stay home for weeks because of a big reason: they need to work and earn money to live. Daily wage workers who earn around 138-449 rupees a day can only afford a daily basis and are unable to stock up their pantry for 21 day lockdown. However, as most businesses have been shut, they cannot go to work and as a consequence, they have no food left to survive.

Migrant Workers Quarantine Total Lockdown
Some migrant workers have to walk hundreds of kilometers back home as public transportation has been shut

As public transportation is also shut too, Sia and her family have no option but to be strapped inside the poor and filthy slum. She hasn’t been paid for 3 weeks so far. She was only paid 380 rupees a day and that little amount of money is the only hope for her entire family. 

Jam-packed slums are not only a big issue of India but many other countries especially Asian ones. A close-up look at tiny rooms studded with many people reveals the poor living condition of poor workers who live hand-to-mouth in big cities. Live is hard, it's even hard amid the coronavirus lockdown.

Migrant Workers Quarantine Lockdown Tiny Room
They live in a tiny and dirty room and share the toilet and kitchen with other people
Migrant Workers Quarantine Lockdown 3 Slums In Hon
This woman has to pay $550 a month for a tiny room in Hong Kong
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There are around 20 people sharing a 55m2 apartment in Hong Kong which makes quarantine impossible
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They living poor living condition that most of us cannot imagine
Migrant Workers Quarantine Lockdown 8
Some even cannot afford a tiny room. All they have is a dirty case which is as tiny as a single bed

Take a closer look at how people are struggling in the poor living condition in the world largest slum:

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Things You Should Buy To Survive During The Nationwide 21-day Lockdown

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