The Union health ministry on Tuesday directed the states witnessing a surge in coronavirus cases to expedite the vaccination of their healthcare and frontline workers, PTI reported.

Health Ministry Additional Secretary Manohar Agnani wrote to Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, and Chhattisgarh, pointing out the districts where the cases were rising.

In his letter to the Maharashtra government, the official said that Pune, Nagpur, Mumbai, Amravati, Thane and Akola were witnessing a coronavirus surge. Similarly for Madhya Pradesh, Agnani said that cases were increasing in Bhopal, Indore and Betul.

Aganani added that in Punjab, a surge in infections was being seen in Kapurthala, Sri Muktsar Sahib and Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar. Coronavirus cases are also on the rise in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district and Chhattisgarh’s Rajnandgaon.

“Hence, it is advised that the vaccination of HCWs [healthcare workers] and FLWs [frontline workers] in these districts is expedited so as to confer immunity in the shortest possible time-frame, as they are also involved in containment, surveillance and management of Covid-19 cases,” the official said. “You [the state governments] are requested to kindly direct the district officials concerned to immediately undertake measures for the maximum coverage of HCWs and FLWs with the Covid-19 vaccine at the earliest.”

Also read:

What we know about the new Covid-19 mutations in Maharashtra, and how you can stay safe

More than 1.12 crore healthcare and frontline have been vaccinated against the coronavirus so far, according to data from the Union health ministry.

Meanwhile, several states have stepped up vigil amid the alarming surge in cases. The Punjab government on Tuesday announced that a cap on gatherings will be imposed from March 1. The state will also ramp up testing.

From Monday, Maharashtra banned all political, religious and social gatherings. Amravati district went under a week-long. Meanwhile, in Pune, schools and colleges were closed till February 28. Restrictions were also imposed on night-time movement in the city.

Karnataka again closed its borders with Kerala because of the surge in cases. People who wish to enter Karnataka from Kerala will now be required to produce a negative coronavirus certificate, obtained through a test taken 72 hours before their journey.

India registered 10,584 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, taking the overall tally to 1,10,16,434. Seventy-eight more deaths pushed the country’s toll to 1,56,463. The number of active cases stood at 1,47,306, while the number of recoveries reached 1,07,12,665.