Sanwar Ali: World coronavirus lockdowns and visas 12 04 20

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By Sanwar Ali

About a third of the World’s population is on “lockdown” due to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.  There are severe restrictions on movement with people being unable to travel and having to stay at home.  The Countries that have amongst the toughest largescale quarantine measures are the UK, France, Italy, Poland, New Zealand and India.

Migrants are amongst the people who have suffered the most during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Many charities that help vulnerable migrants have had to stop operating. Migrants in camps such as in Calais in France and on the US-Mexico border are more likely to be living in cramped conditions and are so more likely to become infected with COVID-19.  The current "emergency situation" around the World makes it more likely that migrants will be treated worse.  In the US and around the World migrant workers have been laid off or are scared for their jobs.  Travel for migrants back to their home Countries tends to be difficult and expensive. 

Currently the number of coronavirus cases worldwide is heading towards two million.   The number of deaths worldwide is over 100,000.  The statistics may be misleading, with the actual figure perhaps much higher than that.  Most people have not been tested for coronavirus.  Some deaths relating to coronavirus have not been included.  We look at the coronavirus lockdown in a number of Countries around the World.

UK started coronavirus lockdown on 23 March

The UK continues to have tough “lockdown” procedures.   Many people have been fined by the Police.  Further details of restrictions below:

  • Only go outside for food, health reasons or work - but only if you cannot work from home
  • If you go out, stay two metres (6ft) away from other people at all times
  • Wash your hands as soon as you get home
  • Do not meet others, even friends or family

According to recent statistics minority groups are more likely to suffer from coronavirus and more likely to die from the disease.  A disproportionately high number of NHS staff who work on the frontline dealing with coronavirus are migrants.   It seems that the “lockdown” will be extended for some time.

Boris Johnson the Prime Minister was in intensive care until recently suffering from coronavirus.  We have written a number of reports about how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting the UK and migrants in particular.

United States 

The US now has the highest number of confirmed infections in the World at more than 500,000 and the greatest number of deaths being more than 20,000.  There are continuing tough restrictions across the US. We have covered the situation in the US in more detail in recent news reports. Many Indian and Chinese migrants in the US and others are facing an uncertain future.


Wuhan City was first put on lockdown on 23 January.  Harsh restrictions were put into place in China for about two months, which are now being relaxed.  it is thought that this is where it all started perhaps at a "wet market".  Some have criticised the Chinese Communist Party Government for being slow in warning other Countries about the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, so making the situation worse.

European Union

From 16 March has banned non-essential travel into the EU for 30 days. Even though the UK has left the EU the ban does not include the UK.


On 16 March a full lockdown was implemented.  This is expected to continue for some time.  Some poorer migrants in France are having to live in overcrowded flats during coronavirus.  Many wealthier French people have moved to second homes outside of Paris. 


Almost all public places are closed.  The good news is that Germany the largest economy in the EU has seen the third successive day of a decline in coronavirus infections and deaths.  German Chancellor Angela Merkel is facing increasing pressure to ease the restrictions in Germany. Germany has had more success than Italy, Spain and France in dealing with coronavirus pandemic.


Under Prime Minister Viktor Orban Hungary has become a dictatorship.   He gained the power to rule by decree indefinitely and suspended elections.  The Country has been on lockdown since about the middle of March.  Hungary’s Government is considered to be anti-immigration and xenophobic.


Since 24 March there have been strict stay at home orders.  Migrant workers have suffered more than others.  When we talk about migrant workers in India we are talking largely about poor migrant workers who have come from Indian villages to work in big cities in India. After the Modi lockdown, migrant workers tried leaving Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata, and other big cities. They tried to return to their impoverished villages with great difficulty.  No transportation was available. Many had to try and walk home. The Indian Government did not think of helping these vulnerable people, who are frequently from "lower castes" and are discriminated against.  India one of the most densely populated Countries in the World may very well suffer more than other Countries due to the Pandemic.


On 27 March Leo Varadkar the Irish leader, whose father was a migrant from India, announced a lockdown.  This has been extended and will continue at least until 5 May.


The tough lockdown since 10 March has affected almost all areas of life.  Almost all public venues are closed. One of the worst affected Countries in the World.  Until recently had the highest number of COVID-19 deaths in the World.

Panama and Peru

There are coronavirus restrictions by gender – Men and women can leave their homes on certain days.


From 30 March Moscow residents are required to stay at home.  Passes will be needed for trips outside the home.  Tough measures in much of Russia, with jail sentences of up to seven years.  Some have suggested the rate of infection in Russia is significantly higher than has been admitted by the Russian Government.

South Africa

Lockdown from 26 March until at least the end of April.

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