The announcement was made on a day India registered the highest-ever number of people receiving the jab. The health ministry data said that over 32.54 lakh people had received the vaccination in the past 24 hours

Representational image. AFP

The Centre on Tuesday announced that starting 1 April, all citizens above the age of 45 will be eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccine shots as part of the country’s nationwide inoculation drive.

The decision was relayed to the media by Union minister Prakash Javadekar at a press briefing on Union Cabinet’s meeting. The minister said that even those without comorbidities above the age of 45 can get vaccinated.

Asserting that there is no dearth of  COVID-19 vaccine doses in India, Javadekar urged all those who are eligible to register on the COWIN vaccination portal and get the jab at the earliest. The minister said that India has thus far vaccinated 4.85 crore people.

“In February daily average was around 3.50 lakh every day, but in March, the daily average [of vaccination] has reached around 15 lakh,” Javadekar said.

The announcement comes on the same day that India registered the highest-ever number of people receiving the jab. The health ministry data said that over 32.54 lakh people were inoculated over the past 24 hours.

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan also asserted in Rajya Sabha that India’s vaccination drive was the fastest among other nations which have started the exercise.

“Citizens are being vaccinated against Corona at the fastest speed in India. At least 30 to 40 percent of the vaccine shots being administered daily in the world, are being distributed in India alone.

Meanwhile, the doubling time of COVID-19 cases in India has decreased from 504.4 days on 1 March to 202.3 days on 23 March, the health ministry said on Tuesday, highlighting that six states have reported a surge in daily new cases and together account for 80.90 percent of the new infections reported in a day.

Six states — Maharashtra, Punjab, Karnataka, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh and Tamil Nadu — collectively account for 80.90 percent of the 40,715 infections reported in a span of 24 hours.

Maharashtra continues to report the highest daily new cases at 24,645 (60.53 percent). It is followed by Punjab with 2,299 cases and Gujarat with 1,640 new cases.

Ten states—Maharashtra, Gujarat, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Haryana and Rajasthan — are displaying an upward trajectory in the daily new COVID-19 cases, the ministry said.

India’s total active caseload is rising after touching its lowest mark in mid-February, the ministry highlighted. It increased to 3.45 lakh (3,45,377) on Tuesday, a net rise of 10,731 cases recorded from the total active caseload in a span of 24 hours.

Three states — Maharashtra, Kerala and Punjab — accounted for 75.15 percent of total active cases in the country. Maharashtra alone accounted for 62.71 percent of the total active cases in India.

The doubling time decreased from 504.4 days on 1 March to 202.3 days on 23 March.

The countrywide vaccination drive was rolled out on 16 January with healthcare workers getting inoculated and vaccination of the frontline workers started from 2 February.

The next phase of COVID-19 vaccination commenced on 1 March for those who are over 60 years of age and for people aged 45 and above with specified co-morbid conditions.

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