Due to severe lockdown, migrants working in the metropolitan cities are flying back to their villages and homes in rural areas. This is creating stress on the already strained healthcare system. An increase in the COVID-19 cases has started appearing in rural areas such as West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh. The pressure of handling patients in rural areas becomes utterly difficult because of the scary lack of doctors and inadequate infrastructure. There is a possibility that reverse migration will further fuel the spread of the contagion in rural India.
The government is worried that reverse migration might risk migrants carrying the virus and the inability of the rural healthcare to identify the infected properly can create problems for them to track and contact the patients thereby leading to a rise in death rates. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare issued an advisory to state governments and for taking immediate and effective measures to quarantine and test migrant workers. The ministry has asked the direct authorities to make sure that all the people returning to the villages and migrating should undergo thermal screening. And these people should compulsorily be home quarantined for 14 days. Those showing any symptoms as well as people above 60 or those with comorbidities should be kept in government-administered isolation facilities.
These guidelines are important to implement if we have to further curb the fast spreading of the virus in rural areas. There are already shortages of medical supplies, infrastructure, and doctors all over the country. Across rural India, the burden of treating patients is double that of the national average. On average there’s one allopathic doctor available for every 10,000 people in the world. For every 26,000 people in rural India, one doctor is available If the spike in cases in rural areas continues, especially those requiring ventilators and severe treatment, it can rattle the Indian health system entirely. The government is preparing for such a casualty.