New Delhi, Mar 18 (PTI) Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday appealed to the Centre to bring some relaxations in the COVID-19 vaccination guidelines and make the process open for all aged above 18 years.
If done so then the entire population of Delhi could be immunised in three months, he asserted.
Acknowledging that coronavirus cases in Delhi have been rising in the last few days, Kejriwal, at a virtual press conference, asserted it was not a matter to be worried about even as he announced the capacity of daily inoculation in Delhi will be augmented from 30,000-40,000 to 1.25 lakh.
He also said the number of vaccination centres will be doubled to 1,000 from about 500 at present spanning both government and private facilities. The closing time for vaccination would be extended and would be done from 9 am to 9 pm from 9 am to 5 pm currently.
Later in the day, an order about extending the timings of vaccination was issued by the health department.
'All the facilities will ensure deployment of adequate manpower at these sites to ensure proper functioning of vaccination sites. Non-compliance shall be viewed seriously,' it stated Kejriwal said on one hand India has taken a lead in making a vaccine, but unfortunately, on the other, a rise in coronavirus cases is being reported in the country.
This is 'difficult to digest', he said.
'Thus, I would appeal to the Central government to bring some relaxations in the vaccination guidelines, in terms of eligibility of age groups. The current guidelines are very strict and rigid, and also has co-morbidity rider for an age group.
'Our country is now doing good in terms of the production of the vaccine. Therefore, rather than creating criteria on the eligibility, age groups with comorbidities etc, we should create a category of ineligible people, for instance, people below 18 and other age groups,' he said.
The chief minister suggested that the COVID-19 vaccination process be made open, and a walk-in facility should be included in case of a regular immunisation procedure.
'If the Centre relaxes those criteria and allows vaccination largely for all, and if we get a sufficient supply of the vaccine, then we have formulated a plan today to administer the vaccine to the entire population of Delhi in three months,' he added.
Kejriwal also appealed to the Centre to decentralise the vaccination system so that it exercises less control and allows the state governments to carry out the job 'on a war footing'.
'I also want to appeal to the Central government to provide some relaxation in the guidelines for the expansion of vaccination centres. We will be writing to the Centre to relax a few parameters. We assure them that we will be careful, and take all precautions.
'This relaxation will help us in opening new centres. Also, many of the existing centres are functioning 24 hours a day. We will have more centres functioning round-the-clock,' he said.
During the press interaction, Kejriwal acknowledged a spike in COVID-19 cases in the city, particularly in the last three days, and said his government has directed officials for stricter tracking, tracing and isolation of cases.
On Wednesday, the number of daily cases increased to over 500.
It was a 'negligible' rise and 'not a cause for worry'. It was still much lower compared to several thousands of daily cases reported in June, September and November, the chief minister added.
Earlier in the day, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain asked people to be cautious, observe all safety norms and not get complacent about the pandemic situation in the city.
Delhi on Wednesday had recorded 536 coronavirus cases, the highest in about two-and-a-half months, while there more persons died from COVID-19 infection, taking the death toll to 10,948.
Kejriwal said that due to a decrease in cases a few weeks ago, laxity had crept in the system but now direction has been issued for stricter surveillance and stricter enforcement of safety norms like using of masks and social distancing.
The Delhi government is in consultation with experts of its own and the Central government and taking all possible measures to check the rise in the number of COVID-19 cases. 'We are closely monitoring the situation and taking adequate measures to address the situation,' the chief minister added. PTI KND/VIT NSD NSD