As tourists throng Himachal, authorities directed to enforce COVID protocols strictly


SHIMLA: In the wake of tourists from different parts of India rushing to the hills in Himachal Pradesh to ring in New Year, the state government and health department have issued directions to the local authorities in all districts to execute the COVID-19 protocols strictly to contain the spread of Omicron.

“The trains on Kalka-Shimla heritage railway track are full to its capacity. The Railway authorities in Shimla are trying to implement the COVID-19 protocol amid the surge in Omicron cases” said Superintendent of Shimla Railway Station, Joginder Singh.

“These days we have a good number of tourists; there is 95 per cent occupancy in trains. As far as the Omicron variant is concerned we are trying to follow the protocol. The passengers are happy and enthusiastic and they are following the COVID-19 guidelines. We are expecting this tourist season will provide a good business to all as we have full occupancy till January 10 and after that the snowfall will draw more tourists.” added the Superintendent of Shimla Railway station.

“I have come from Hyderabad and am here to celebrate the New Year. So far there is no fear, we are aware of the guidelines, trying to maintain social distance and wearing face masks,” said Shravani, a tourist from Hyderabad.

According to Himachal Pradesh Health Minister Dr Rajiv Saizal, the state government said that the Chief Minister had already conducted meetings with the Deputy Commissioners of all districts and directions had already been given out to implement appropriate COVID-19 behaviour.

He said, “So far there was one COVID-19 Omicron case in the state and that too has now been reported Negative. The government does not want to impose any restrictions on tourism as it is a source of income for hundreds of people in the state.” 

government had received 2.80 lakh COVID-19 vaccine COVAXIN doses to vaccinate its young population of 15-18 age group from January 3.

“Vaccination for children under 15-18 years to start from 3rd Jan. We have received 2.80 lakh COVAXIN doses for the same,” State Health Minister Rajiv Saizal told ANI on Wednesday.

He further said that the government is planning to vaccinate all children in the 15-18 age group by January 15.

“Standard operating procedures (SOP) to be sent to schools which will be vaccination sites. Vaccination target (date) is 15 January,” Saizal added.

On December 25, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the COVID-19 vaccination for children aged 15-18 years will start from January 3.

Bharat Biotech’s COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin has received approval from the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) for emergency use for those between 12-18 years, sources said.

Prime Minister had said that the move to provide vaccination to children in the 15-18 age group is likely to aid in education normalization in schools and will reduce the worry of the parents with school-going children.

The decision regarding precaution dose for frontline and health workers has been done in light of the amount of time that they spend in the service of COVID-19 patients.”

The decision of precaution dose will strengthen the confidence of healthcare and frontline workers,” he said.

Referring to the Omicron infections in India, the Prime Minister urged people not to panic and to follow precautions such as masks and washing hands repeatedly. He assured that nasal vaccine and the world’s first DNA vaccine will be available for vaccination soon in the country.