Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Vaccine roadshow in Kolkata after 1,600km aerial journey from Pune

Kolkata: Very rarely have placid boxes stirred so much emotions as they did on Tuesday, right from the airport where they arrived by a cargo flight to the streets of Kolkata through which they were escorted by police patrol cars to warehouses, where curious onlookers gathered to catch a glimpse of the parcels containing Covid-19 vaccines, believed to be the elixir of life.

At 1.42pm, a Bombardier Q400 SpiceJet turboprop aircraft touched down in Kolkata, carrying 83 boxes that contained vials with nearly 10 lakh doses of Covid-19 vaccines for Bengal and the Northeast. When the plane came to a halt at Parking Bay 11 near the cargo terminal, loaders waiting in the wings swung into action. In 20 minutes flat, the boxes were offloaded from the plane and put onto three trucks. While 25 boxes were placed in a truck headed to the Government Medical Store Depot in Hastings, the remaining 58 boxes were loaded onto two other trucks that had arrived from the Central Family Welfare Store in Bagbazar.

“We made special arrangements for the three trucks to enter the tarmac so that the boxes could be transferred quickly,” said Kolkata airport director Kaushik Bhattacharjee who was at the site to oversee the smooth operation. “May all be free from disease. One step closer! The consignment from Pune carrying #COVID19 vaccines has arrived at #KolkataAirport. Consignment handed over to the State Health Department in the shortest possible time to maintain the cold chain,” Kolkata Airport tweeted.

As word of the vaccine’s arrival at the airport spread, people began to crowd outside Gate 3. Among them was Tala resident Avishek Banerjee. “I had come to pick up my wife who was returning from Delhi. When I heard the vaccine had reached the airport, I went over to the cargo area to have a look,” he said.

A number of policemen and airport officials not on duty in the area also gathered for a closer look of the vaccines being transported. “I managed to take some photographs and shared it with my family and friends. This is the talking point of the day,” said an airport official.

13/01/21 Tamaghna Banerjee/Kamalendu Bhadra/Times of India

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