The Impact of Coronavirus on Foreign Workers

The coronavirus pandemic has been devastating for foreign workers. In many countries, the living conditions of migrant labor have made this cohort especially vulnerable to the pathogen: Even in famously fastidious Singapore, where authorities acted aggressively to contain the outbreak, new cases were emerging from dormitories for migrant workers long after the city-state had eased lockdown restrictions.

To deepen the plight of foreign workers, the economic impact of the pandemic has cost many their jobs, just as travel restrictions have made it hard to go back home. Since lockdowns have closed banks and money-transfer offices, marooned migrants have not been able to send money — remittances — overseas to their families, many of whom are reeling from greater economic hardship and need the money more than ever. Few foreign workers use online banking to remit money. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the prospect of a long global economic slowdown means it may be years before migrants who lost their jobs can find employment again, at home or abroad.

About this News Item