Second wave of COVID-19 hits railway staff


The second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is threatening to derail train operations in the railway network of Kerala with the frontline personnel, including 70 loco pilots in Thiruvananthapuram and Palakkad Railway divisions, testing positive for the virus.

Around 400 Railway personnel in the two divisions based in the State capital and Palakkad have been infected with COVID-19 and either hospitalised or subjected to quarantine or isolation as on Tuesday.

The national transporter is worried over the train operations, as 42 loco pilots of Palakkad division and 28 of Thiruvananthapuram division are out of the roster due to COVID. In Palakkad division, 46 people in the Engineering and 27 of the Commercial wing have tested positive.

In Thiruvananthapuram division, 200 personnel tested positive in various wings. Over 11 Station Masters, 11 Points Man, 12 Guards, and eight personnel of the Control Office are infected. The Commercial Manager and the Operations Manager are also among those affected. The Commercial wing has been the worst hit as 49 had tested positive.

Since March 1, six deaths due to COVID-19 was reported in Thiruvananthapuram division, the last being a Section Engineer T. Anil on May 3. Station Superintendent of Thiruvananthapuram Central Shaj Kumar, Station Superintendent of Kochuveli P. Kumar, and Sujeet Kumar Dhawan, Goods Guard of Ernakulam, are among those who have succumbed to pandemic.

What is worrying for the Railway authorities is that only 60% of the staff above 45 years have been vaccinated in Thiruvananthapuram division. Of the total 9,500 staff, only 3,750 above 45 years and 579 below 45 years have been vaccinated. In Palakkad, which has a staff of 6,507, only 2,547 have got the first dose and 677 the second dose. But, those who got the second dose are mainly RPF personnel and health workers.

Divisional Railway Manager R. Mukund told The Hindu that the State had been approached to make available vaccine for the Railway personnel on a priority basis in view of the surge in COVID-19 among its frontline staff.

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