Thiruvananthapuram, March 21 : With COVID-19 raging, if there is one community looking most worried, it's none other than the Malayalees, as they are known as a global citizen.
That's perhaps the reason why Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan begins his daily press briefing around 7 p.m., by listing the COVID-19 figures in some of the most worst-hit countries aware as he is about the presence of the community across all parts of the globe.
On Friday, he said: "COVID-19 has now reached 168 countries."
The Malayalees, both home and abroad, are worried about their loved ones.
Irudayarajan, who heads the Migration Department at the Centre for Development Studies here, says according to studies, there are Indians in 180-plus countries.
"According to our study estimates, currently there are 2.5 million Keralites who are migrants, 90 per cent work in the Middle East, while there are another two million Keralites who hold passports of other countries," said Irudayarajan.
The total Kerala population is around 3.30 crore.
"With COVID-19 raging, it's going to be an economic and emotional problem for Malayalees," said Irudayarajan.
"Apart from the emotional struggle, the economic implication is going to be grave as practically every sector will be affected and could be even bigger than the economic meltdown in 2008," said Irudayarajan.
The emotional struggle has begun, as all incoming flights are now banned and the only saving grace, is international calls that one can make, and it's practically free.