“Hence, it is essential that they are categorised 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 seen by .
The apex association has also requested that free movement be allowed to telecom professionals during the lockdown to maintain networks.
The industry body – whose members include Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea – has urged the Health Ministry to accord priority to vaccination of telecom frontline workers.
COAI had, in April too, had written to the Health Ministry, drawing its attention to the issue.
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 all 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, utilise telehealth services and simply communicate, all while minimising exposure if the frontline workers had not been at the forefront,” it said.
It 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 prioritise frontline telecom workers for receiving COVID jab.
The Department of Telecom, in a letter dated March 16, had said it endorses the industry’s request in this regard.
“There is no doubt that the telecom field force continues to work relentlessly to ensure uninterrupted data and voice services across the country and that in this endeavour the risk exposure for COVID-19 is high,” Telecom Secretary Anshu Prakash had said.
Citing COAI’s plea to treat frontline telecom workers as “telecom warriors” and prioritise them for receiving COVID vaccination, DoT had urged the Health Ministry to favourably consider the request made by the industry association.
The call for priority vaccination for frontline telecom staff comes at a time when a massive rise in infections during the second deadly wave of the pandemic has led to hospitals in several states reeling under a shortage of medical oxygen, beds, and other critical infrastructure.
The new cases of coronavirus in India fell to 3.29 lakh after 14 days taking the total tally of COVID-19 infections to 2,29,92,517, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Tuesday.
A total of 3,29,942 infections were reported in a span of 24 hours, while the death toll climbed to 2,49,992 with 3,876 fresh fatalities, the data updated at 8 am showed.