Hyderabad: Health teams in Telangana will now conduct random checks in public places for Covid vaccination certificates, the state’s Director of Public Health Dr G. Srinivasa Rao told reporters Thursday. The move is a “cautionary measure” that also creates “awareness” about vaccination, Rao explained.
“We request people to carry their Covid vaccine certificates. Telangana health teams will visit public places and will randomly ask people for vaccine certificates,” he said.
Those found without a Covid vaccination certificate will be counselled by health workers, Rao continued, while reiterating that people found without masks in public will face a fine of Rs 1,000. The state government had issued orders to impose penalties on those without masks during the second wave of Covid in April.
At a time when fears about the new Omicron variant are rising across the world, and there has been a slight surge in cases in Telangana, the state government has also set an ambitious target to ensure 100 per cent vaccination in the state by the end of December.
In a Cabinet meeting Wednesday, headed by Municipal Administration Minister and CM K. Chandrashekar Rao’s son K.T. Rama Rao, all district collectors were asked to prepare an action plan — covering different levels like wards, municipalities, and mandals — to ensure 100 per cent vaccination.
A few months ago, the health department had fielded complaints from citizens that they had received “fake” messages that they had received the second dose of the vaccination, when in fact they had not. In some cases, such messages with a deceased person’s details were also sent to the family. In response to questions about this, Srinivasa Rao said three doctors and three vaccinating staff had been suspended over such complaints.
Telangana’s vaccination status
Srinivasa Rao said more than 90 per cent of the state’s roughly 3.5 crore population have been vaccinated with the first dose. However, only 47 per cent have received the second dose.
This, the director of public health said, was a matter of concern. “There are about 25 lakh people in the state who are due for the second dose and way past the due date, but are not getting vaccinated,” he said, adding that 15 lakh of these people are in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) limits, “where awareness and literacy is far better compared to rural areas”.
The GHMC limits include the city of Hyderabad as well as parts of Medchal-Malkajgiri, Rangareddy and Sangareddy districts.
In just over a week, there have been at least three Covid clusters reported in Telangana. Sunday, 47 students and one teacher tested Covid positive at a residential school in Sangareddy district.
Allaying fears of Covid outbreaks in educational institutions, Srinivasa Rao said 96 per cent of staff working in government-run educational institutions have been vaccinated and that precautionary protocols are being followed.
In September, the health department had proposed to make vaccination mandatory to enter malls and public places in the state, but this plan did not materialise.
Following flak from citizens, the government has also cancelled crowd-pulling recreational programmes at Hyderabad’s tourist spots. This week, the government cancelled its weekly “Sunday-Funday” programme, which was launched in August, as a matter of “abundant precaution” against the Omicron variant.
(Edited by Asavari Singh)