Indians Run for the Exits, Taking COVID Risks With Them to Nepal, Dubai From a Dying Nation reports the Daily Beast. Private jet rentals are up 900 percent with the middle class spending their life savings to flee, just as Nepal sees a deadly surge in cases as the chaos spills over the border.
Here is some of the reporting.
As India logs another 400,000 new infections in a 24-hour period, efforts to contain the worsening crisis have failed and now everyone from middle-class Indians to migrant workers are getting out as fast as they can.
Private jets, often used primarily by Bollywood glitterati and business moguls who left weeks ago, are now being booked by the middle class who are spending their life savings to save their lives.
JetSetGo CEO Kanika Tekriwal told CNBC’s Street Signs Asia that her company has seen a 900 percent increase in bookings, but it is not her usual clientele. “To say that only wealthy Indians are leaving India on private jets would be wrong,” Tekriwal said Thursday from her own safe haven in the Maldives. “In the last 10 days, what we have really seen is anyone who can put together the resources and the means to pool in money for a private jet, or to pool in money just to get out of the country, getting out.”
The most popular destinations are the Maldives, which fetches around $20,000 for an eight-seat jet with a pilot, and Dubai, which runs a whopping $31,ooo for a six-seater with a pilot to the United Arab Emirates. Both countries are among the last to allow Indian passengers to enter as long as they test negative for COVID–19 before departure—which, with odds at 2–1 they have the virus based on spiking contagion rates, is not a guarantee they will get to leave.
But it is those without life savings to spend who are spreading the deadly virus to neighboring countries. Thousands of migrant workers escaping the country have now turned neighboring Nepal into the next hell. Some experts predict that the situation could be even worse than in India and the country’s prime minister, K.P. Sharma Oli, much like India’s Narendra Modi, has been widely criticized for mishandling the pandemic response.
The capital city of Kathmandu is now under strict lockdown, but fears are growing that the border city of Nepalgunj, where thousands of migrant workers from India have returned, could explode with cases. That city has just a dozen intensive-care beds and because most of its medical supplies come from India, it could face shortages soon.
Nepal’s positivity rate is inching closer to 50 percent of all those tested, in what is starting to feel like déjà vu as the country tracks almost exactly the same trajectory India did two weeks ago. But because of an even more unprepared healthcare system—with 0.7 doctors per 100,000 people, fewer than almost anywhere in the world—many experts worry that Nepal’s crisis could be even deadlier than India’s. Nepal—one of the world’s poorest countries— has just 1,595 ICU beds and 480 ventilators for the entire population of 30 million, according to CNN.