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Centre asks states to ensure 100% saturation vaccination in high case burden districts

Government is emphasizing on fast pace vaccination and covid control measures, as many districts in the country are seeing clusters of cases emerging. (Reuters)Premium
Government is emphasizing on fast pace vaccination and covid control measures, as many districts in the country are seeing clusters of cases emerging. (Reuters)

The Centre on Tuesday asked states to ensure that everyone above 45 years is vaccinated in two weeks in all districts with high covid-19 caseload and rapid transmission, as India enters the third phase of its vaccination campaign on 1 April

The Centre on Tuesday asked states to ensure that everyone above 45 years is vaccinated in two weeks in all districts with high covid-19 caseload and rapid transmission, as India enters the third phase of its vaccination campaign on 1 April.

Among previously added population groups—healthcare and frontline workers, people above 60 years of age and people above 45 with co-morbidities—the vaccine doses administered neared 65 million on Tuesday.

From 1 April, everyone aged 45 and above irrespective of co-morbidities will also be eligible for the vaccine.

The government is pushing for swift vaccinations and covid-19 control measures as many districts in the country witness new disease clusters.

Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan wrote to states that every district, regardless of whether it is seeing a surge right now, or has a low burden, should make a district action plan with clear timelines and responsibilities.

“Some districts that saw a high number of cases in August-November are again seeing a high growth rate in cases. In addition, a number of new districts that saw a limited prevalence earlier are worryingly showing a surge in covid cases," Bhushan noted.

“Where there are clusters of cases, simply quarantining individuals or families will not help. In that case, larger containment zones with clear boundaries and stringent controls must be implemented," he said in the letter.

Seven out of the top 10 districts with active covid-19 cases are in Maharashtra (Pune, Mumbai, Nagpur, Thane, Nashik, Aurangabad and Nanded). While the average positivity rate of the country is 5.65%, Maharashtra’s covid-19 positivity rate is 23%. Bengaluru, Urban Delhi and Ahmedabad are the other three districts with the highest number of active cases.

Covid-19 cases had started increasing from July 2020 and reached the maximum point in the middle of September 2020, after which it started declining rapidly till mid-February 2021.

The daily average of around 3,000 covid positive cases in the second week of February has now gone up to around 34,000 this week, health ministry data showed.

The country recorded 56,211 new covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours. Six states—Maharashtra, Punjab, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat—continue to report a large number of cases, accounting for 78.56% of the new cases.

Maharashtra has reported the highest daily new cases at 31,643, followed by Punjab (2,868) and Karnataka (2,792), the health ministry said.

Expressing concern over the testing rates across states, Bhushan said 47 districts in Maharashtra, Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Gujarat and Delhi, represented by the district collectors, were engaged in a comprehensive dialogue with the health ministry. “We appealed to them to increase testing with focus on RT-PCR tests," said Bhushan.

India’s total active caseload reached 540,720 on Tuesday, or 4.47% of its total positive cases. Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Karnataka and Chhattisgarh cumulatively account for 79.64% of the total active cases. Maharashtra leads with more than 62% of the active caseload.

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