30% Sri Lankan workers in Bahrain ‘affected by pandemic’

Majority of these are men working in the kingdom’s hospitality industry

  

Nearly 30 per cent of Sri Lankan nationals residing in Bahrain have been affected by the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, said the country’s ambassador to Manama.

A majority of these are men working in the kingdom’s hospitality industry who have lost their jobs and had to return home with their families, said Ambassador Pradeepa Saram.

In April, the GDN had quoted the embassy as saying that many Sri Lankans working in the hospitality, cleaning, domestic services and other sectors had complained of non-payment of wages and issues related to food and accommodation.

“Female domestic workers are the next lot who have been impacted,” added Ms Saram.

“However, they have the amnesty option until December 31; most of them are hopeful and hence staying back.

“According to an initial estimate, 20 per cent to 30pc or more of the community in Bahrain has been affected by Covid-19.”

But she pointed out that there were possibly many of her countrymen who had not yet reached out for help.

Ms Saram was speaking after the first repatriation flight organised by Colombo left Bahrain on Saturday midnight, carrying 290 people, including three infants.

They were among almost 700 Overseas Sri Lankans (OSLs) who had registered online with the embassy since the country announced repatriation flights.

Most of the returnees were people on visit visas, those with medical conditions, pregnant women and 10 who were waiting to be deported.

With the support of the Bahrain government, all the passengers were tested for Covid-19 and they had to remain in quarantine for two to three days prior to travel.

“Most of the passengers got the tests done on their own, while the embassy facilitated it for around 100 people with the support of civil societies and well-wishers.”

Only 22 out of the 28,857 Covid-19 infected in the country are Sri Lankans and the envoy confirmed that the community has had no fatalities till date.

The GDN reported in April that the embassy had communicated with its estimated 10,000 nationals in Bahrain informing them of measures they had taken to help those affected by the coronavirus.

“We had fewer than 40 infected cases exposed to infections at work places and shared accommodations but we have not registered any deaths until now.

“We have supported around 2,000 people with dry rations provided by Colombo from March until June 10,” said Ms Saram.

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