Facilitate Covishield's 2nd dose at 6 wks for expats looking for Gulf return: Venugopal to Vardhan

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New Delhi, May 27 (PTI) Flagging problems being faced by Indians looking to return to the Gulf for jobs, Congress general secretary K C Venugopal on Thursday urged Health Minister Harsh Vardhan to facilitate a second dose of Covishield vaccine at six weeks so that such people do not lose their livelihood.

In a letter to Vardhan, Venugopal, the Congress general secretary in-charge, organization, said the recent decision of the government of India to reschedule the second dose, which was given six weeks after the first dose of Covishield vaccine to twelve weeks, is a 'major obstacle' for expatriates who want to return to Gulf countries.

'In this regard, I would request you to take immediate steps to facilitate a second dose of vaccine at six weeks interval as previously announced. Delays in this regard could result in thousands of expatriates losing their job and livelihood,' the Rajya Sabha MP, who hails from Kerala, said.

Venugopal requested Vardhan to take the necessary steps to include the passport number of the expatriates in the certificates who have taken the first or second dose of vaccine using their Aadhaar card.

'As COVISHIELD vaccine is recognized in Gulf countries under its international name 'OXFORD-ASTRA-ZENECA', I would also request you to modify/include this in the certificate accordingly,' he said.

In the letter, Venugopal said, according to official sources, 8,69,730 Keralites returned from overseas between the first week of May 2020 to January 2021, 5,67,138 directly cited loss of job as the reason for returning.

It has been more than a year since the cancellation of direct flights from India to Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia, he noted.

The vaccination certificate is mandatory for all travellers entering as per the new COVID-19 protocol in different Gulf countries and passengers without a valid vaccination certificate are being repatriated from airports, Venugopal said. PTI ASK KJ KJ

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