With Wave of Returnees, States See Increase in Covid Cases

NEW DELHI: Migrant workers and other stranded people returning to their places of origin since last week now account for the majority of new cases in at least two states: 90 out of 101 at Odisha's sharpest single-day peak Wednesday and about 390 of the 404 reported in the past nine days, as the count increased in states that already handle large numbers.

Odisha has reported 376 positive cases since May 3, the day migrant workers began to return on shramik buses and trains. More than 300 of them came from Gujarat, Kerala, Maharashtra and, authorities said.

Ganjam district alone has contributed 210 of these new cases, most of them immigrants who came from Surat to Gujarat. As of Wednesday, Odisha's Covid-19 count was 538, up from 437 overnight. The outbreak in positive cases was not unexpected, said special aid commissioner Pradeep Kumar Jena. But it is still not a cause for concern because all returnees are in quarantine centers and have not mixed with the local population. Since May 3, around 37 trains and 400 buses have brought 70,000 Odisha migrant workers home.

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In Bihar, 190 of the workers who returned between May 5 and 10 tested positive for the virus. Another 183 cases were reported on May 11 and 12. Most of the new positive cases are mainly migrant workers, chief secretary Sanjay Kumar said. The increase in numbers began on May 8, when Bihar began random testing of returnees.

Jharkhand has also seen his Covid-19 cases skyrocket since shramik trains began bringing migrant workers home, the largest increase occurred on May 8 when 20 people in Giridih and two in Koderma tested positive. Prior to this, the only time that 20 cases were reported in one day was in Ranchi on April 27.

Between April 28 and May 4, the count increased in just a dozen new cases. As of May 5, a total of 58 cases were reported, a five-fold increase in which migrant workers accounted for 48 cases.