India asks states to prioritise vaccinations in areas with surging COVID-19 cases

FILE PHOTO: A man receives a dose of COVISHIELD, a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute of India, during a vaccination drive for people above 60 years of age and those who are 45 or more and suffering from certain medical conditions, at a medical centre in New Delhi, India, March 1, 2021. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis/File photo

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India’s federal government on Saturday asked local authorities to prioritise COVID-19 vaccinations in several districts of eight states including New Delhi that have seen a spike in coronavirus cases in recent weeks, it said in a statement.

More than 60 districts across New Delhi, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa and Chandigarh, “continue to be of concern”, the government said.

“These districts are seeing a decrease in total tests being conducted, low share of (tests), increase in weekly positivity and low number of contact tracing of the COVID positive cases,” it added, citing a risk of transmission to neighbouring regions.

India is the second worst-hit country from the coronavirus after the United States, with more than 11 million recorded cases and over 150,000 deaths.

The country began vaccinations in mid-January and at least 12 million health and frontline workers have received the shot so far. India aims to vaccinate 300 million of its 1.35 billion people by August.

The federal government statement said state officials have been asked to speed up vaccinations for “priority population groups in districts reporting higher cases” and focus on the critical districts.

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