Joined-up photos show supporters of candidates belonging to different political parties, without masks and not maintaining social distancing norms, on their way to the Deputy Commissioner’s office to file nominations, in Guwahati on Friday. – AT photos
Rampant violation of COVID-19 protocol seen at poll rallies, filing of nominations
GUWAHATI, March 19: The health department has proposed to escalate the COVID-19 vaccination drive by reducing the age limit of eligible beneficiaries from 60 years to 50 years, even as rampant violation of COVID-19 protocol in the form of public interface in physical form continues to be the order of the day during this election time.
With a care-a-damn attitude, candidates, irrespective of their party affiliation, were seen making a mockery of all the COVID-19 protocols, grossly undermining the larger interest of public health.
In fact, all hell broke loose in Guwahati today when BJP candidate from Jalukbari constituency Himanta Biswa Sarma, who is also the Health Minister of the State, took part in a massive procession before filing his nomination papers.
Adherence to masking and social distancing guidelines is nowhere to be seen in any of the political rallies, be it in case of the Congress or the newly floated Assam Jatiya Parishad or Raijor Dal.
Whether or not the health department or for that matter, the Election Commission of India is taking note of the ‘violations’ has now become a matter of serious introspection!
“Are the protocols meant for only the common man? Is it wrong to expect responsible behaviour from our leaders?” questioned a senior citizen of Guwahati.
“Pull out any picture doing rounds in the social media, it will clearly show that the observance of preventive measures has gone for a toss,” he said.
The police who usually need no second invitation to crack the whip on the common man moving on the road, too remained mute spectators to the brazen violation by public representatives and their supporters.
While many states announcing lockdown in view of the surge in cases, in Assam more than 65 new infections were reported in the last two days.
Meanwhile, on the need to reduce wastage of vaccine, a senior official said that the extension of the coverage would check the wastage, which stands at 5 per cent compared to the national average of 6.5 per cent.
Sources further informed that the State government has also asked for an increase in the volume of procurement of vaccines vis-à-vis the reported surge in the number of new cases.
As far as reducing the age limit of those with comorbidities is concerned, no decision has been taken as yet.
On the percentage of wastage of vaccine, an official said, “Once the vaccine vial is opened, the doses need to be administered within four hours. And it is not always that the number of doses in the vial tallies with the number of intended beneficiaries present at that time, which leads to wastage,” the official said.
“Once we extend the gamut of beneficiaries by reducing the age, the flow will be more and there will be minimum wastage,” the official pointed out.
As per a health bulletin issued by the National Health Mission, 7,132 beneficiaries aged 60 years and above and 1,345 beneficiaries between 45 and 59 years of age with comorbidities received the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday.
Further, 1,159 healthcare workers and 5,654 frontline workers too received the first dose of the vaccine, while 2,558 healthcare workers and 1,141 frontline workers received the second dose on Thursday.