Coronavirus hits migrant workers in Qatar

Coronavirus hits migrant workers in Qatar
2 min read
20 March, 2020
An outbreak in an area of Qatar where migrants live and work has placed much of the country's labour force at risk.
Qatar's labour force relies on approximately 2 million mostly Asian workers [AFP]
Qatar's industrial area has become a COVID-19 hotspot, putting many migrant workers at risk of contracting the virus, Reuters reported on Thursday.

Qatar's migrant labour force comprises approximately of two million mostly Asian workers, with many living and working in the small Gulf state's industrial area.

Doha reported on Thursday eight more infections, bringing the country's number of confirmed cases up to 460.

According to Reuters, government spokeswoman Lulwa Rashed al-Khater said the majority of the cases were migrant workers, with only two being Qataris who had been in Europe.

Earlier this week, Qatar announced the closure of several square kilometres of the industrial area in capital Doha, which also contains labour camps and other housing units, Reuters reported.

"The majority of (coronavirus) cases in Qatar to date have been located in the Industrial Area," Qatar's Government Communication Office (GCO) said in a statement to Reuters.

"Every effort is being made to prevent the spread of the disease in Qatar and protect every member of the population. As a result, some areas of Qatar have been cordoned off to contain the virus," the GCO added.

Last week, authorities said 238 people under quarantine in a residential compound tested positive for the novel coronavirus, before linking most reported cases to migrant workers.

The GCO said authorities were working with employers to ensure payment of salaries and distribution of food, water, masks and hand sanitiser to people in lockdown sites, and people under quarantine were being tested and monitored by medics, according to Reuters.

This week, Qatar Airways laid off about 200 Filipino staff in Qatar as the coronavirus outbreak pushed the airline to cut flights.

Qatar has taken a number of stringent measures in the wake of its coronavirus epidemic.

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