Migrant workers, mostly from Bangladesh, queue to collect free masks and get their temperatures taken in Singapore [File: Feline Lim/Reuters]

Dinesh Bhandari spent two days travelling by bus from his village in rural Nepal to Kathmandu to get a permit to take up a factory job he had been promised in Malaysia.

When he reached the Nepali capital, he found the door to the recruitment agency locked. A note on it read: “No labour permits will be issued by the government until further notice due to the coronavirus.”

The 22-year-old is one of a growing number of migrant workers hit by a wave of travel bans from Asia to the Middle East aimed at combating the virus.


“I am shocked. I don’t

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