DARJEELING, India — Traders of the eastern Indian city, Darjeeling, have appealed for a fast Covid-19 vaccination drive to boost the inflow of tourists in the region.

Darjeeling, a famous hilly tourist destination in the eastern state of West Bengal, has been poorly impacted due to the Covid-19 pandemic. And, hotels, restaurants, and markets have been desolated.

“The middle class and lower economic class people are much affected due to the lockdown,” said Amit Rai, a hotel manager.

“The entire Darjeeling hills is dependent on tourists. Tourists are not coming. Shops and restaurants are seen empty. In this situation, the government should focus on maximum vaccination drive.”

Map of Darjeeling West Bengal

Parvez Malik, a local trader, said only a few customers are coming.

“I have taken loans to clear staff payment,” he said.

“The vaccination can reduce the number of Covid-19 cases. So, people should take vaccines that not only save their lives but also bring back the glory of Darjeeling. In this situation, I appeal to the government to organize more and more vaccination camps.”

The West Bengal state government had given some relaxation to bring back normalcy following the Covid-19 situation. But it extended restrictions across the state till July 15.

The state government has permitted private and state vehicles operation with 50 percent strength along with other services. But, the driver has to be vaccinated.

Tourists can visit Darjeeling but have to carry an RT-PCR test report not older than 72 hours and approval from the government.

There are 500 hotels in Darjeeling. In 2018-19, around 750,000 domestic and 40,000 international tourists came to visit Darjeeling.

After the emergence of a Delta Plus variant, the Darjeeling district health department is ramping up the healthcare infrastructure to combat the third wave.

Sandip Sengupta, Dean, Student Affairs, North Bengal Medical College, said elaborate arrangements had been made to increase the beds, especially at the pediatric ward.

“The administration has also prepared the first 28-bedded safe home for the children,” he said.

“Doctors appealed to the people to take Covid vaccines to fight against Covid-19 as they believe that this will help to reduce the number of Covid cases, especially when the third wave is approaching.”

Soumendra Nath Pramanick, nodal officer of district health and family welfare department, said the safe home is exclusively built for women and children and has 28 beds.

“Few beds have oxygen support which will help a lot during the third wave,” he said.

As per World Health Organization, there have been 30,362,848 confirmed cases of Covid-19 with 398,454 deaths in India.

(With inputs from ANI)

(Edited by Amrita Das and Saptak Datta. Map by Urvashi Makwana)



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