As tourists and cases rise in Kashmir, tourism workforce to be vaccinated

The tourism in Kashmir witnessing a busy season amidst raging pandemic, J&K Government has ordered that the people working in the sector and its allied occupations be vaccinated for Covid19 immediately in order to mitigate the rise in cases.

Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Pandurang K Pole has ordered that people engaged in the tourism industry be safeguarded against COVID19 by vaccination. The order that was issued after his COVID19 review meeting on 31 March has urged that Taxi and Cab drivers, Hoteliers, Waiters, Tourist Guides and others be administered COVID19 vaccine on priority. The order assumes significance amidst the rising number of cases of COVID19 in Kashmir as spring season sets in. Post lockdown in Kashmir, tourism sector has been abuzz in winter and currently the bloom season is attracting people in large numbers.

Orders have also been issued to vaccinate the staff that would be deputed for Amarnath Yatra starting in June.

In the recent past, there has been a slight increase in the number of travelers testing positive. Currently, over 10 percent of fresh COVID19 cases are among travelers, as per data. Many of them are visiting for tourism purposes.

The vaccination drive in J&K has seen a better acceptance among masses in the recent weeks. As per the official data, 8.49 lakh people have already been vaccinated. This includes 3.74 lakh general population and 2.37 lakh frontline workers besides 86,800 healthcare workers. A total of 24 lakh people are targeted in the ongoing vaccination drive in J&K. Vaccination became open to all people aged 45 years or above from 01 April.

However, in order to further boost the pace of vaccination across states, including J&K, GoI has issued a number of directions. These include operationalising all vaccination sites in both public and private sector “to increase pace and coverage” of the drive. In addition, vaccination will be carried out on all days,

including public holidays. GoI has also approved an incentive of Rs 200 per vaccination session for ASHA workers. This, as per GoI, will help in mobilizing the population.

Director General Health, Family Welfare and Immunization, Dr Saleem ur Rehman said the GoI directions are being internally discussed and will be implemented as the drive requirements arise. “We have a very good pace of vaccination now. J&K is among the top three performers in India as far as vaccination of people aged above 65 years is concerned,” he said. He said vaccination sites had been increased and people could get their shot on any day, including gazetted holidays. “We are working on the incentives scheme,” he said.