The Centre, on Tuesday, March 23, eased the age limit on COVID-19 vaccination, a big leg up to India's vaccine drive. The home ministry allowed people above 45 years of age to get inoculated from April 1. The vaccination stages have so far covered all those aged 60 years or above, people above 45 with comorbidities, healthcare, and frontline workers.
Tuesday's decision is expected to be a shot in the arm for the government's nationwide mass vaccination drive that kickstarted on January 16, notably amidst a sharp spike in daily COVID-19 cases in some states.
In another major development, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Tuesday, March 23, announced a new set of guidelines to curb the spread of coronavirus, asking states to widen the scope of RT-PCR tests, stringently enforce the 'test-track-treat' protocol and expedite the pace of immunisation to cover all priority groups.
Meanwhile, Delhi and Gujarat registered a record surge in coronavirus cases on Tuesday. Where Delhi logged 1,101 fresh cases, its highest since December 19 last year, Gujarat, with 1,730 new cases, registered its highest single spike since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in the state.
Here's all the latest in India's fight against Coronavirus
Total COVID-19 cases today in India
India logged 40,715 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, taking the countrywide infection tally to 1,16,86,796, whereas the active caseload at 3,45,377 recorded a jump for the 13th day in a row, the health ministry said. The active COVID-19 caseload now constitutes 2.96 per cent of the total infections, whereas the recovery rate has further dipped to 95.67 per cent, according to the ministry data updated at 8 am. India's coronavirus death toll jumped to 1,60,166 with 199 new casualties on Tuesday. The data further revealed that the number of people who have recovered from COVID-19 increased to 1,11,81,253, while the death rate has fallen to 1.37 per cent.
India to inoculate all above 45 from April 1
The Centre opened the coronavirus vaccination for everyone above the age of 45 years. Union Minister Prakash Javadekar told the media on Tuesday. "After April 1, anyone who is over 45 years will get the vaccination," Javadekar said during a press briefing in New Delhi. As things stand, everyone above 60 years of age and those above 45 with comorbidities were being inoculated, apart from healthcare and frontline workers. From April 1, all those above the age of 45 will not require a comorbidity certificate to be vaccinated, the minister added. Javadekar stated that there was no paucity of coronavirus vaccine doses in India and appealed to all eligible people to register immediately and get inoculated.
MHA issues new guidelines
The Ministry of Home Affairs on Tuesday issued a new set of guidelines instructing all states and Union Territories (UTs) to 'test-track-treat' to check the further spread of COVID-19 in the country. The MHA has asked all states and UTs to widen the scope of the RT-PCR tests, stringently enforce the 'test-track-treat' protocol and expedite the pace of inoculation to cover all priority groups. The new guidelines issued by the ministry will be effective from April 1 till April 30.
DGCA suspends international commercial flights till April 30
In the wake of the prevalent coronavirus situation in India, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Tuesday extended the suspension of international commercial passenger flights till April 30. These curbs will, however, not apply to international all-cargo operations and flights, particularly approved by the DGCA. Besides this, the DGCA stated that international scheduled flights "may be allowed on selected routes" on a case-to-case basis.