Several months into the COVID-19 Pandemic, definite patterns regarding the spread of the novel Wuhan virus are emerging which tend to show that cities that figure prominently on the international tourist and passenger map are the worst hit.
Therefore, cities like Mumbai, New York City (NYC), London and Singapore happen to be the worst affected. While the Pandemic in the countryside has been either subdued or a spillover of these mega, cosmopolitan cities, the Pandemic has been more or less reduced to big cities where multiculturalism forms a part of the popular cult. Foreign travellers entering these cosmopolitan cities through their lavish airports have brought along the deadly virus.
Take for example the New York City, which is popular as a global cosmopolitan hub- more than 60 million tourists visit the city every day and by 2018 it already had more than 3.1 million immigrants, several of them naturalised US citizens and many of them permanent lawful residents.
Then the undocumented population is estimated to be as high as 5,60,000- these are people from different parts of the world residing in New York City which has emerged as the epitome of global cosmopolitanism.
New York truly believes in the idea of multiculturalism, that is, migration and co-existence of people from different countries at one place. This has been eulogised all this while as New York City became a popular destination for migrant workers and tourists from around the world. But during the Coronavirus Pandemic, it actually proved to be the reason behind its undoing.
Multiculturalism brings high air traffic along with it, and when a Pandemic strikes the world the air traffic introduces Coronavirus. New York has the busiest international airports in the country with thousands of international passengers from China, Middle East and Europe pouring in every day.
Thus, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the first known infection in the New York State was an Iranian health worker who had returned to the US from his native country and tested positive merely two days of his arrival.
Today, it is recognised that most of the cases in the New York City came from Europe showing how multiculturalism and cosmopolitanism- ideas that have defined the city all this while have engulfed it in the Pandemic.
Out of 1.29 million cases in the United States, there are as many as 1,78,000 cases in New York City alone- the number being higher than several European countries from where migrants brought the novel Wuhan virus to New York City in the first place.
No different is the case of United Kingdom’s Capital, London where the number of cases has risen sharply to 25,499 out of 2,06,715 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country. What made London susceptible is again a high concentration of migrant population and a culture of ghettoised foreign populations in the United Kingdom capital.
London is defined by multiculturalism and cosmopolitanism, much like the New York City and more than 3.2 million foreign-born people live in this city making it the hub of the migrant population in the United Kingdom. 38 per cent of the United Kingdom’s migrant population lives in London, and only 10 percent of UK-born people live in the Capital city.
Many of these migrants, including Chinese migrants, live in overcrowded places that further become the hotbeds for the spread of an outbreak like the Coronavirus Pandemic. Again, many of the migrants are undocumented which encourages ghettoization and overcrowded spaces.
What multiculturalism does is to create a migrant population that flies in and out of the city frequently. This is why the Heathrow International Airport happens to be one of the busiest in the world, and it doesn’t really come as a surprise that the first novel Wuhan virus case in London was that of a Chinese national. The first case was reported in February and the number of cases has kept on piling ever since.
In line with this trend, Mumbai happens to be the worst affected city in India, and with 11,394 confirmed cases out of 56,351 cases in the country, Mumbai carries almost 20 per cent of the total case load.
Within India, Mumbai happens to be one of the most cosmopolitan cities, being one of the most visited cities in the world in 2019, and the Mumbai International Airport too happens to be the busiest single-runway airport in the world.
While it is a poorly enforced lockdown and maladministration on the part of Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition government that contributed to a surge in cases, the incoming air traffic into Mumbai from Coronavirus affected parts of the world such as the Gulf is what made Mumbai vulnerable to the Pandemic in the first place.
Singapore, another multicultural migration hub that has become a Coronavirus hotspot, reported as many as 558 Coronavirus cases from dormitories used by foreign workers. Singapore has a heavy concentration of migrants from other parts of Asia such as China, India and Pakistan leading to the creation of cramped up dormitories.
These overpopulated dormitories have made Singapore a Coronavirus hotspot and last month, 90 per cent of the cases emerging in Singapore were attributed to dormitories inhabited by foreign workers.
New York, Mumbai, Singapore and London- some of the worst-hit cities, therefore, explain how multiculturalism and cosmopolitanism have become the carriers of the Coronavirus Pandemic. The idea of multiculturalism will take a massive blow post Coronavirus pandemic.