Pakistan: Christian sanitation workers at risk amid COVID-19 lockdown
Pakistan’s primarily Christian sanitation workforce remains at work while the rest of the country goes on lockdown amid the global COVID-19 crisis. These sanitation workers are obliged to risk exposure to the coronavirus in order not to lose the demeaning jobs their families depend on.
Sanitation positions are considered the lowest and filthiest of jobs. Almost only non-Muslim applicants are considered for these positions.
While doctors in Punjab refuse to go to work because of a lack of masks and other protective gear, sanitation workers continue their work across the country. Much of this work is done by hand with little to no personal protective equipment.
“I am very worried about them,” Father Saleh Diego, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Karachi, told Asia News. “Sanitation workers are the most neglected and marginalised group in our society. (…) We see them in the streets without masks or gloves (…) They clean toilets, empty pits and septic tanks, clean sewers, and manholes,” he explains.
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Pakistan has recently passed 1,100. There have also been at least eight COVID-19 related deaths.