Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal today appealed to the Centre to bring relaxations in the Covid-19 vaccination guidelines and make this vaccination open for all aged above 18 years.

If the Centre does it then the entire population of Delhi could be immunised against Covid in three months, Kejriwal asserted.

The CM also asserted that the Delhi government will increase the count of the Covid vaccine jabs from the existing 30,000-40,000 per day to 1.25 lakh per day along with doubling the vaccination centres from 500 to 1000 in the next few days. The timings for administering the vaccine a day from 9 am to 5 pm are also being extended to 9 am-9 pm.

Noting that coronavirus cases in Delhi have been rising in the last few days, Kejriwal, at a virtual press conference, said it was not a matter to be worried about.

He said that on one hand India has taken a lead in making a Covid vaccine, but on the other, a rise in coronavirus cases is being again 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,” Kejriwal reportedly said.

The CM suggested that the Covid vaccination process be made open and a walk-in facility should be included as 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 said.

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,” the CM said.

Kejriwal acknowledged an uptick in Covid cases in Delhi in recent days and said his government has directed officials for stricter tracking, tracing and isolation of cases.

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 the city in June, September and November, he pointed out.

Earlier in the day, Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain asked people to be cautious, observe all Covid safety norms and not get complacent about the pandemic situation in the city.

Jain said that Delhi’s positivity rate was 0.6 per cent, which was the lowest compared to states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Kerala, Punjab, MP and Haryana. Delhi’s coronavirus testing capacity is five times that of the national average, he said.

Delhi had yesterday recorded 536 coronavirus cases, the highest in about two-and-a-half months, while there more persons died from this infection that took its Covid toll to 10,948.Kejriwal conceded that due to a decrease in Covid cases a few weeks ago, laxity had crept into the system but now direction has been issued for stricter surveillance and stricter enforcement of safety norms like masks and social distancing.

The Delhi government was consulting its own experts and those of the central government and was taking all possible measures to check the fresh rise in the number of coronavirus cases. “We are closely monitoring the situation and taking adequate measures to address the situation,” the CM added.