There is a saying in Kerala's Kasaragod that you won't find a street in Dubai without a person from the district in it. The Naif region, which is around 2.5 kilometers away from the Deira side of Dubai is almost a mini-Kasaragod, as many from this Kerala northern district work and do small scale businesses in this part of Dubai.
Ever since coronavirus cases started being reported out of Kasaragod, the district collector Sajith Babu had been insisting in his press meets that people who had returned from Naif have to report to nearby Public Health Centers. "People who came from Dubai after February 20, specially from the region Naif have to report at the nearby PHC, even if they don't have any symptoms. There are many people from Kasaragod working in the area," the Collector said in press meets on March 20 and March 21.
Data available now shows that the Collector's warnings were right and a majority of the infected persons in Kasaragod are from Naif.
Currently, 99 COVID 19 patients are under treatment in Kasaragod district. Seven people from Kasaragod are in treatment in Kannur district, two others are in Kozhikode hospital. In total, 108 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Kasaragod.
From the data given by district information office, around 75 patients are Dubai returnees. Speaking to TNM, Kasaragod District Medical Officer has confirmed that the majority of this are people who live in Naif.
"Among the patients who returned from Dubai, more than 75 percent are from Naif," DMO Ramdas AV said.
Naif is one of Dubai's most densely populated regions and is a commercial and residential hub. It has got the busiest market with small and big stores of electronic gadgets, textiles, jewellery, furniture and much more. It is one of the most congested areas in Dubai too.
Most of the shops are run by Indians and Pakistanis. But there are also many residents from Bangladesh, China, Philippines and Nepal.
It has to be assumed that there might be more cases of COVID-19 in the Naif region.
On March 28, health officials in Dubai started door to door medical check-ups in Naif and other regions to control the spread of the pandemic.
Ashraf, who is a salesman in a textiles shop in Naif and hails from from Kasaragod, told TNM that most Indians there live in congested rooms. The textile shop he worked in is also owned by a person from Kasaragod.
"People from Kasaragod own mobile shops, textiles and jewelry shops on Naif road. Our shops are in a area which is very congested. We sell products at cheaper rates, so the place is normally crowded. Even the rooms we live in are congested, there will be 10 or 20 people in a room. The shop owners there are not big businessmen, we earn a comparatively low salary. Room rents are also cheaper compared to other parts of city," he said.
The first case of coronavirus was confirmed in Kasaragod on March 16. The patient had reached the district from Dubai through Mangaluru airport. The highest number of cases were reported on March 27, with 34 cases. Among them, 23 were from Dubai.