Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan will brief the Election Commission this morning on the Covid situation – specifically the threat posed by the Omicron strain – in Uttar Pradesh and four other states due to hold elections in February-March.
The meeting is expected to take place at 11 am.
The rise in Covid cases – India on Wednesday reported a 55 per cent jump in new cases – and the violations of Covid protocols at political rallies in poll-bound states has led to fresh calls seeking delay in the elections.
In the politically significant state of Uttar Pradesh, parties like the Congress, the BJP and Samajwadi Party have cancelled their rallies amid concerns that these rallies – which draw crowds of thousands – could emerge as super-spreader events.
The Election Commission has asked the poll-bound states to step up the inoculation drive against the viral disease and ensure that the personnel to be deployed on election duty are “double vaccinated”.
In a recent letter to the chief secretaries of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa, Manipur and Punjab, the poll body also reminded the five states that polling personnel come under the category of frontline workers and are eligible for the “precaution dose” of the Covid vaccines, news agency PTI reported quoting sources.
While the tenure of the Uttar Pradesh legislative assembly ends in May, the terms of the legislative assemblies of Goa, Manipur and Punjab end on different dates in March.
The Election Commission is likely to announce the poll dates for the five states in the first half of this month.