The drive to vaccinate tea garden workers in Assam, which is among the groups hardest hit in the second wave of Covid infections in the state, is progressing at a slow pace.
Only 1 per cent of the nearly 7 lakh tea workers in Assam have received both doses of the coronavirus vaccine so far, as per official data. Nearly 2.17 lakh tea garden workers have received at least one dose of the vaccine till June 28.
This assumes significance as the community is particularly vulnerable to the pandemic owing to low wages, illiteracy and unhygienic living conditions. The tea workers account for 18 per cent of Assam’s population.
According to official data, between April 1 and June 28, nearly 15,000 tea garden workers were infected and 105 of them succumbed to the infection. Out of these deaths, 81 were reported from tea estates in the Upper Assam region.
Assam Labour and Tea Tribe Minister Sanjay Kishan said the state government is constantly working to arrange more doses of vaccine.
Speaking to reporters in Sonitpur district today, he said tea garden workers who test positive for Covid are not being allowed to stay in home isolation as the cramped living conditions can lead to a spread of the infection. The state government has set up Covid care centres for this purpose, he said.
“All quarantine measures are being strictly implemented. The trade unions have also been taken into the loop. Instructions have been issued from the government’s side and measures have been taken to spread awareness,” he said.
Assam has over 800 tea estates. Out of them, Covid cases were reported in 517. As per official data, the highest number of Covid deaths among tea garden workers were reported in Dibrugarh and Tinsukia districts — both reported 26 deaths. All the affected tea gardens now have quarantine centres.
According to the Union Health Ministry data, 74,47,893 doses of Covid vaccines have been administered in Assam so far. Over 12.75 lakh people have received both doses.