NEW DELHI: The Election Commission, which was informed by the Union health secretary on Monday that the five poll-bound states do not have many Omicron cases, may not consider rescheduling of elections.
After being briefed in detail on the extent of Omicron cases as well as the status of vaccination in poll-bound UP, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa, and Manipur, the commission has suggested that the health ministry ensure 100% or highest possible coverage of the first dose of Covid vaccination in UP, Punjab, and Manipur and also focus on promptly administering the 2nd dose to those already eligible. It asked the health secretary to come back in a week’s time with a fresh report on the updated status of vaccination. Based on that report as well as inputs to be collected by Election Commission during its three-day UP visit starting Tuesday, the poll panel will take a call on fine-tuning its guidelines for Covid-safe polling and campaigning in the five states, said a source.
The Centre has meanwhile asked the five poll-bound states to exponentially increase testing and ensure strict enforcement of Covid-appropriate behavior, apart from ramping up vaccination coverage.
The commission on Monday also met representatives of ITBP and Sashastra Seema Bal, which guard the International border in Uttarakhand and UP, and asked them to step up surveillance in the run-up to polls and monitor movements across the border to rule out any attempts by external forces to vitiate the upcoming polls. A discussion with BSF, which is deployed along the Indo-Pakistan border in Punjab, will also be held later regarding securing the border during polls.