The Centre on Tuesday urged states and Union Territories to focus on administering the second dose of the coronavirus vaccine as many eligible beneficiaries have not received them yet.

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan reviewed the progress of India’s vaccination drive with officials of the states and Union Territories.

“It was pointed out that many states have adequate doses to vaccinate those people who are awaiting their second dose,” a Union health ministry statement said. “Government of India is in a position to provide additional vaccine doses to the States/UTs so that they can complete the aforesaid task.”

The Centre also asked the states to improve the momentum of the vaccination drive, the statement said.

The health ministry told the states and Union Territories to identify and prioritise vaccination in districts that have low immunisation coverage. The government asked them to explore if there was any need for additional inoculation centres and to address challenges in rural areas.

“They were also requested to share their strategies to enhance second dose coverage,” the statement said.

The health ministry said it was reviewing guidelines on international travel guidelines in consultation with all stakeholders, including the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Bureau of Immigration, the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Ministry of External Affairs. It asked the states and Union Territories to share their feedback on the guidelines.

India has so far administered 99,03,89,354 coronavirus vaccine doses, according to data available on CoWIN portal. Of these, 28,87,42,144 residents have been administered the second dose.

Meanwhile, India registered 13,058 new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday morning, which took the total number of infections in the country to 3,40,94,373 since the pandemic began in January last year. The number of new cases was 3.95% lower than Monday’s count of 13,596 cases.

The countrywide toll rose to 4,52,454 after 164 more deaths were recorded in the last 24 hours.

India’s R-value below 1 since early September

The reproduction rate, or R value, of Covid-19 in India has remained below 1 since early September, PTI reported on Tuesday. This suggests that the rate of infection across the country has slowed down, according to experts.

The R value measures how many people are being infected by one coronavirus-positive person on an average. For instance, a value between 0.7 and 1.2 means that every 10 Covid-positive people will pass on the infection to seven to 12 others.

The number of infections keeps rising if the R value is more than 1. If the value declines, the infection will eventually stop spreading because there will not be enough new cases for the outbreak to continue.

The R value of the 10 states that have the highest number number of active cases was also below 1 till October 18, according to the calculations done by researchers of the Chennai-based Institute of Mathematical Sciences.

The countrywide R value was 0.90 between September 25 and October 18. It has remained steady at 0.90 since last week, reported The Print.

However, it is above one in some cities. Kolkata’s R value was estimated to be 1.06 between September 29 and October 18. For Bengaluru, it was 1.04 between October 13 and October 18.

The R value in Delhi was 0.90 and it was 0.96 in Pune between October 9 and October 18. In Chennai, it was 0.98 between October 13 and October 18.

Sitabhra Sinha, who led the research, said that Kolkata’s high R value was unsurprising given the mass gatherings during the Dugra Puja festival last week.

The study showed that the R value was 1.11 between August 30 and September 3. It started decreasing between September 4 and September 7 when it was calculated at 0.94.

The value was 0.86 between September 11 and September 15, 0.92 between September 14 and September 19 and 0.87 between September 17 and September 21.