Kerala, the small southern Indian state where the Athekkatils live, plays an outsize role in such flows. An estimated 2.5 million Keralites were working abroad before the arrival of the virus, the vast majority in the Persian Gulf. The pandemic is pushing them home in record numbers: As many as 500,000 migrants and their families are expected to return by the end of the year, the largest such exodus ever, experts say. Nearly 400,000 people have already returned to the state from the gulf since May, according to data provided by the Kerala government agency responsible for overseas workers. At least half of the returnees said they were coming back because they had lost their jobs.

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