Coronavirus vaccines will be given in the first phase to around nine lakh healthcare and frontline workers in the national capital, Delhi Health Minister Satyendra Jain on Sunday charted out the strategy of inoculation drive in the national capital, hours after two coronavirus vaccines got approval for emergency use in the country.
"The Delhi government is making all the arrangements (for vaccine rollout). In the first phase, the vaccine will be administered to the healthcare and frontline workers. Delhi has around three lakh healthcare workers and six lakh frontline workers. It will then by administered to the population of above 50 years of age in the national capital," said the Delhi Health Minister.
The minister also informed that the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government will be setting up 1,000 centres for the vaccination drive.
"The preparations for the rollout is underway in Delhi. A storage facility has been created. We are preparing to set up 1000 centers. We are setting up around 500 to 600 centers for the first phase. We will start administering the vaccine as soon as it is made available," he said.
India on Sunday authorised the emergency use of two coronavirus vaccines developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University and by indigenous pharmaceutical firm Bharat Biotech, paving the way for one of the world's biggest inoculation drives.
On Saturday, Mr Jain said COVID-19 vaccine will be provided to people in the national capital for free once it arrives, and asserted that the city government has made preparations for the vaccination drive.
The minister also informed about the AAP government's decision to reduce the number of beds reserved for COVID-19 patients in the government and private hospitals in the national capital, as recommended by a de-escalation Committee.
"We started de-escalation a few days ago and reduced the number of beds reserved for Covid patients in both private and government hospitals. Earlier, 18,000 beds were reserved for Covid patients and after de-escalation, we have around 10,000 beds now," he said.
The Delhi High Court had said it was "inhumane" to keep thousands of ICU beds reserved in private hospitals for COVID-19 patients when the positivity rate of the infection and number of coronavirus cases was going down in the national capital.
Mr Jain also said that the AAP administration will take a decision on closing Covid care centres after reviewing the situation. He also spelled out the need to remain cautious to avoid a surge in the number of infections.
"It is important to be a little cautious for now. The numbers might increase if we lower our guard," said the Delhi Health Minister.
Delhi recorded 494 fresh COVID-19 cases on Saturday - the lowest daily rise in over seven months - and 14 new fatalities, while the positivity rate remained unchanged at 0.73 per cent, authorities said.