The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has sought vaccination for frontline telecom workers on a priority basis amid a rising number of Covid-19 cases in the country. COAI has also shot off a letter to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in this regard.
According to the industry body, even amid a steep rise in the number of cases all across the country, the frontline telecom staff — manning networks around the clock — have to be on duty “but there is fear in the minds of these professionals.”
“Hence, it is essential that they are categorized under the frontline workers category so that they are given priority for getting the COVID-19 prevention vaccine, which would motivate them to continue their work,” COAI director general SP Kochhar said in the letter to the ministry.
The body has also requested free movement to telecom professionals during the lockdown to maintain networks. The industry body – represents Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, and Vodafone Idea – has also urged the Union government to accord priority to vaccination of telecom frontline workers.
In its letter on Monday, COAI, once again, highlighted that ever since the pandemic hit last year, telecom operations have played a critical role in maintaining the country's information infrastructure.
During the outbreak and spread of COVID in the country, the industry ensured the availability and continuity of telecom operations throughout, COAI contended. “Even today, when the situation has worsened from last year, the telecom warriors continue to work persistently. It would be impossible for people to function – conduct everyday business, bank, learn, utilize telehealth services and simply communicate, all while minimizing exposure if the frontline workers had not been at the forefront,” the letter said.
It also noted that with the increase in the number of cases in India, various restrictions are being imposed by states. “However, telecom being an essential service, the telecom service staff would have to be on the move to keep the networks live 24X7,” the industry association said.
The DoT too had urged the health ministry to ‘favourably' consider the industry's request to prioritize frontline telecom workers for receiving COVID jab. In a letter dated March 16, the Department of Telecom had said it endorses the industry's request in this regard.