The Assam government has set a target to vaccinate the entire population of Kamrup Metropolitan district, under which the state’s largest city Guwahati falls, by end of this month, Health and Family Welfare Minister Keshab Mahanta said on Saturday.
The vaccination drive on a mission mode will be conducted at the polling booth level of the district, with field teams already starting work on the collection of data on non-vaccinated people, he said.
Addressing a press conference here, Mahanta said though the rate of new infection of COVID-19 was decreasing in the state, Kamrup Metropolitan district remained an area of concern.
The district continued to report the highest incidence of new COVID-19 cases.
Of 708 new cases detected in the state on Friday, 164 were from Kamrup Metropolitan and the figure for the district could touch 1,000 within two to three days if preventive measures are not taken, he said.
Sharing details of the intensified vaccination drive for the district, the minister said there are 1,204 polling booths in the district the voters’ list will serve as the basic document in reaching out to the people.
As per the voters’ list, there are over 11 lakh people in the district, though the number of the eligible population for COVID vaccination has been estimated by the government at around 15 lakh as Guwahati city has a large number of people staying for various reasons, he said.
“There could be a further two to three lakh more people in the district if we take into account the floating population,” he said, adding that over 14 lakh people in the district have already been vaccinated.
“All 1,204 Booth Level Officers have been trained and they have been dispatched on field duty from Saturday to go door-to-door and collect information on all non-vaccinated persons in their area. They will be conducting this drive till August 23,” he said.
“The BLOs will be accompanied by the gaonburah (village headman) and local ASHA worker in rural areas, and in urban locations, the ASHA worker and a member of the local Nagarik Samiti (citizens’ forum) will be with them,” he added.
These three-member teams will collect information of the non-vaccinated people and the entire data will complied on August 24 and the eligible people will be contacted on their phones for availing their vaccine doses, Mahanta said.
“From August 25 to 31, we will undertake the vaccination drive on a mission mode, and as far as possible, we will set up vaccination centres at the local polling booths itself. Where it is not feasible, we will set up the centres somewhere convenient nearby,” he said.
“If needed, we will extend the drive beyond August 31,” he added, appealing to the people with folded hands to come forward for their jabs.
The minister further said a phone number (8929103776) has been opened from Saturday morning through which people can reach out to get their vaccines by giving a missed call on the number.
“In case of shops and malls, it is now mandatory for them to prominently display that the entire staff is vaccinated and the vaccination certificates must also be available for confirmation by any customer if they want,” he said.
“If the spread of infection cannot be controlled in Guwahati, the government will be compelled to impose further restrictions. We can’t let the entire state suffer due to negligence of one district,” Mahanta added.
For further relaxing restrictions, the number of daily new cases in the state has to be below 500 and for Kamrup Metropolitan, less than 100, the minister said.
Currently, a 10-hour curfew from 7 pm is imposed in the state every day and inter-district movement of people, which had been suspended for over two months, was opened from this week though movement from and to Kamrup Metropolitan district remained closed.