Virus-hit India is deploying migrant workers who have recovered from coronavirus in hospitals to ease workloads.
The bizarre initiative will be rolled out across the state of West Bengal after 49 recovered cases are employed at hospitals across its capital Kolkata, the Press Trust of India reported.
The group of workers, dubbed ‘COVID-19 Warriors’, will assist with patients fighting coronavirus.
The men will provide moral support for patients and liaise with their families over their conditions, government sources said.
While mainly offering counselling services, they have been trained to change oxygen cylinders, check blood pressure, body temperature and other simple tasks after a minimum seven days of training.
All of the men will live together at the same hostel and be paid $280 a month.
The move comes as droves of migrant workers returned to major cities in search for work as coronavirus restrictions eased in India despite a surging death toll.
On Monday, the death toll surpassed the grim milestone of 50,000.
On Tuesday, daily deaths surpassed 1000 as its daily toll continues to rise.
While the rise in daily infections appears to be slowing, there were 65,000 new cases on Tuesday, taking its overall number of infections to 2.7 million – the third highest globally behind Brazil and the US.
Thousands of migrant workers were pictured arriving by bus in capital New Delhi on Monday as they returned after the nationwide lockdown introduced in March.
They were made to wait in crowded areas and long queues for rapid COVID tests with those who tested positive were taken away to quarantine centres.
The rest were allowed to leave the city’s busy inter-state bus terminus with their luggage.
Almost all of them wore masks or covered their nose and mouth with scarves or handkerchiefs, though in the countryside such virus-fighting measures have become tough to enforce and the infection rate has surged.
India conducted more than 730,000 tests for COVID in the past 24 hours, the state-run Indian Council for Medical Research said.
The government’s stated goal is to run 1 million tests a day, though experts say the rate is still too low for a sprawling country of 1.3 billion people. Fears are also rising about India’s heavy reliance on rapid antigen tests, which have a high rate of false negatives.
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