COVID Surge: Centre Briefs EC Before Polls; Asks States To Set up Control Rooms

Political rallies have seen severe violations of COVID protocols and many have called for the polls to be postponed.

2 min read
COVID Surge: Centre Briefs EC Before Polls; Asks States To Set up Control Rooms

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As coronavirus cases surge across the country, the Centre on Thursday, 6 January, briefed the Election Commission (EC) on the COVID-19 situation in the poll-bound states of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa, and Manipur.

These five states are slated to go to poll in February and March this year, even as the country reported over 90,000 new cases on Thursday (a 65 percent rise). Political rallies have also been witness to severe violation of coronavirus protocol, and many have called for the polls to be postponed in a bid to prevent them from transitioning into a series of 'super-spreader' events.

Meanwhile, the Election Commission has, according to NDTV, asked states to:

  • Step up vaccinations

  • Ensure that those who are likely to be assigned election duty are double vaccinated

Further, PTI quoted sources as saying that in a letter to chief secretaries of the five poll-bound states, the EC had said that polling personnel are categorised as frontline workers and are therefore eligible for the third "precaution dose" of COVID-19 vaccines.

As the country also saw a surge in Omicron cases on Thursday, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan also spoke to the Election Commission on the threat posed by the Omicron strain.


'Set Up Control Rooms': Centre Writes to all States

Meanwhile, in a letter signed by Arti Ahuja, Additional Secretary of National Health Mission, the Centre has asked all states to ensure setting up of adequately staffed district and sub-district control rooms for COVID-19 management.

Pointing out that this is in a bid to “ensure ease of access to services like ambulance transportation and booking of hospital beds” and “based on the latest guidelines on home isolation”, the Centre sought for:

  • The control rooms to be adequately staffed with medical doctors, counsellor and volunteers, among others; as well as equipped with ample phone lines

  • The control rooms to be provided with “enabling infrastructure in terms of computers and broadband for uninterrupted connectivity”

  • The control rooms to remain functional round the clock in a bid “to provide validated guidance/support to patients”

  • The control rooms to have “real-time data on availability of COVID testing centres, ambulances” and for them to be able to “guide the caller on the process of availing these services”

  • The control rooms to also monitor the availability of different types of beds across health facilities, and counsel patients/attendants to avail “only the required services based on clinical symptoms and availability of beds”

  • The control rooms to ensure clear and transparent mechanism for allotment of beds

  • The control rooms to make outbound calls to patients under home isolation to regularly monitor their status

  • The control rooms to collate the daily status report of all patients under home isolation in their jurisdiction to to submit the same to the district administration

  • Allotment of dedicated ambulances to each control room for patient transport

  • Assigning of Nodal officers for different levels of control rooms who can be in contact with each other at all times, in a bid to “provide seamless service to citizens”

(With inputs from NDTV and ANI.)

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