In Romania, hundreds of Nepalis forced to take unpaid leave, pay cutsThe southeastern European country hosts around 3,000 Nepalis, most of whom work in the hospitality and construction sectors.
Nearly 500 Nepali migrant workers in Romania have been forced to either stay at home without pay or take pay cuts as the Covid-19 pandemic wreaks havoc in Europe.
Businesses that employ Nepali workers in the southeastern European country, which has been in lockdown since March 25, were initially planning to cancel the permits of foreign employees for sometime, but later agreed to send them on unpaid leave, said a representative from Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies, an organisation of 760 recruiting agencies.
“We were informed about the discussion [among businesses] that was happening,” said Sujit Shrestha, general secretary of Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies. “The Honorary Consul of Nepal for Romania also discussed the matter with local employers and reached an understanding that Nepali workers would not be made to return home.”
Nepali workers have been staying on unpaid leave after the hotels and restaurants have been shut down for an indefinite period due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
Following the understanding between the consul and the hospitality sector employers, Nepali workers can continue to stay in Romania, and employers will provide food, accommodation, electricity, water, room heater and access to the internet, according to Shrestha.
Romania has emerged as one of the popular destinations in Europe for Nepali migrants because of the high minimum wage in the country. A 2018 policy adopted by the Romanian government made it easier for local employers to hire foreign workers after the country faced a shortage of workers. According to Shrestha, Romania currently hosts nearly 3,000 Nepali workers. Around 1,200 of them work in the construction sector.
Although Nepali workers have been migrating to Romania to work in the hospitality and construction sectors, they also work as babysitters and caregivers.
Nepali construction workers have also been affected due to the Covid-19 crisis. They have been only getting 75 percent of their salary, said Shrestha.
“The Nepal government, recruiting agencies, the Nepali diaspora community abroad are regularly in consultation with local employers in labour destination countries to ensure Nepali workers remain safe during the crisis,”said Shrestha.
Frequently asked questions about the coronavirus outbreak
UPDATED as of May 27, 2020
What is Covid-19?
Covid-19, short for coronavirus disease, is an illness caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, short for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. Common symptoms of the disease include fever, dry cough, fatigue, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
How contagious is Covid-19?
Covid-19 can spread easily from person to person, especially in enclosed spaces. The virus can travel through the air in respiratory droplets produced when a sick person breathes, talks, coughs or sneezes. As the virus can also survive on plastic and steel surfaces for up to 72 hours and on cardboard for up to 24 hours, any contact with such surfaces can also spread the virus. Symptoms take between two to 14 days to appear, during which time the carrier is believed to be contagious.
Where did the virus come from?
The virus was first identified in Wuhan, China in late December. The coronavirus is a large family of viruses that is responsible for everything from the common cold to Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). After an initial outbreak in Wuhan that spread across Hubei province, eventually infecting over 80,000 and killing more than 3,000, new infection rates in mainland China have dropped. However, the disease has since spread across the world at an alarming rate.
What is the current status of Covid-19?
The World Health Organisation has called the ongoing outbreak a “pandemic” and urged countries across the world to take precautionary measures. Covid-19 had spread to 210 countries and infected more than 5,684,795 people with 352,225 deaths. In South Asia, India has reported the highest number of infections at 150,793 with 4,344 deaths. While Pakistan has reported 57,705 confirmed cases with 1,197 deaths. Nepal has so far reported 772 cases with four deaths.
How dangerous is the disease?
The mortality rate for Covid-19 is estimated to be 3.6 percent, but new studies have put the rate slightly higher at 5.7 percent. Although Covid-19 is not too dangerous to young healthy people, older individuals and those with immune-compromised systems are at greater risk of death. People with chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes and lung disease, or those who’ve recently undergone serious medical procedures, are also at risk.
How do I keep myself safe?
The WHO advises that the most important thing you can do is wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizers with at least 60 percent alcohol content. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unclean hands. Clean and disinfect frequently used surfaces like your computers and phones. Avoid large crowds of people. Seek medical attention if symptoms persist for longer than a few days.
Is it time to panic?
No. The government has imposed a lockdown to limit the spread of the virus. There is no need to begin stockpiling food, cooking gas or hand sanitizers. However, it is always prudent to take sensible precautions like the ones identified above.