A video of migrant workers in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh being doused in a disinfectant used to sanitise buses has sparked controversy.
According to Indian media reports, the chemical used was sodium hypochlorite, the main ingredient in bleach.
While chemical disinfectants work on surfaces, they can be dangerous to people. According to the World Health Organization, putting disinfectant on the skin will also not kill the virus if it has already entered the human body.
The district magistrate of Bareilly, Nitish Kumar, tweeted that while the municipal corporation and local fire service were under orders to sanitise buses, they were “overzealous” in spraying the migrant workers directly.
The incident sparked outrage online, with many turning to social media to condemn it. A Twitter user wrote: “Who r u trying to kill, Corona or humans? Migrant labourers and their families were forced to take bath in chemical solution upon their entry in Bareilly.”
Tens of thousands of India’s economic migrant workers have been making a long journey back to their rural homes.
Many of them lost their jobs as businesses shut their doors across India’s cities due to the nationwide lockdown.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged all states to seal their borders to stop the virus from reaching the rural areas.
Officials are now scrambling to find millions of migrant workers who had already returned to small towns and villages across the country, in order to quarantine them for 14 days.
This report was produced and edited by Al Jazeera NewsFeed’s Hassan Ghani.