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

·1 min read
COVID-19 vaccination in New Delhi

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's federal government on Saturday asked local authorities to prioritize 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.

(Reporting by Zeba Siddiqui in NEW DELHI; Editing by Ros Russell)