Ahead of Holi, tribal districts in Gujarat gear up for return of migrants in huge numbers

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Holi newsTribal districts in Central Gujarat are gearing up for a spike in the number of Covid-19 cases as the migrant population will head home for Holi (Photo: Pixabay)

With days left for Holi, tribal districts in Central Gujarat are gearing up for a spike in the number of Covid-19 cases as the migrant population will head home for the festival in big numbers.

District health departments are also seeing it as a chance to initiate the first dose for those migrants, who fall under the current age groups of the Covid-19 vaccination drive.

In Panchmahals, the health department has planned to set up a health camp in various talukas to check the migrant population that will head home for Holi. The camp will help find tribals with comorbid conditions, who may be eligible for the vaccinations. District Collector Amit Arora said, “We have conducted an analysis of the target beneficiaries for the vaccination drive and estimated close to 1.5 lakh population about the age group of 60. There has been reluctance and we are working on that front.”

Panchmahals has recorded 39.08 per cent vaccination of citizens (apart from health and frontline workers) so far. Health officials say close to 50,000 migrant tribals are expected to visit their homes during the festival.

In Chhota Udepur, which witnesses grand annual Holi fairs, has seen an overall vaccination of 22 per cent, the district administration has shifted focus on involving the local revenue and administration officers along with the sarpanches in convincing the tribals to take the jab.

Dr Mahesh Chaudhari, Chief District Health Officer (CDHO), said, “We have about 98,000 villages in the district that we have to target and for the last four days, we have intensified the reach, covering close to 127 villages per day to create awareness. We have formed a team of the local administration officers, who people are familiar with to accompany the teams as well as asked the sarpanches to be present during the sessions at each and every village site. It gives the tribals the confidence to accept the idea of the vaccination.”

Chaudhari said that the health teams will focus on vaccinating persons with comorbid conditions from the migrant labourers that return home for Holi.

“The migrant labourers do come home for a sufficiently long break during Holi. But with the current capping of vaccination for persons between 45 and 60 with comorbid conditions, we will have to ascertain the numbers locally once people return. Overall, the incidents of comorbidity among the tribal population is low,” Chaudhari said.

In Dahod, where tribals migrate for work with their families, the district administration is gearing up for camps to screen the incoming population from within the state and also from other parts of the country like neighbouring states of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

According to District Collector Vijay Kharadi, the district has seen an overall vaccination of 84 per cent due to the willingness of tribals to take the vaccination. Kharadi said, “We have been successful in convincing most people to register and also take the first dose. Initially, we did face difficulties because we realised that there was a lot of inhibition even among the health workers and the frontline workers.” According to Kharadi, the district administration is planning to set up screening centres for the incoming migrant population during Holi. ” We will initiate vaccinations for those migrants, who are eligible after we have sufficiently managed to contain the infection that is likely to come with the incoming population.

All three districts have prohibited the annual Holi fairs that are a feature of the tribal festivities.”

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