Should internal migrants be held accountable for spreading COVID-19?
The 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has quickly swept through China, and mass internal migration during the Chinese Spring Festival is now widely blamed for this.
This statement, we argue, is misleading. Internal migrants should not be held responsible for the initial spread of COVID-19, as those cities first affected are megacities that connect with the epicentre Wuhan more with regard to business and tourism than migration. The scale of the epidemic can only be partially explained by internal migration. Severe outbreaks are not limited to cities that neighbour Hubei Province and that have large migration to Wuhan. They also occurred in provincial capitals that are neither contiguous with Hubei nor connected with Wuhan in terms of migration. Even though a few cities far away from the epicentre were hit severely by COVID-19 due to migration, the major contributor is not the migrant job seekers but business people.
The responsibility of spreading COVD-19 so fast, on such a large scale and so far is by no means fully on internal migrants.