Coronavirus vaccines will be administered to people throughout April, including on gazetted holidays, at public and private vaccination centres, the health ministry announced on Thursday. The Centre directed all the states and Union Territories to make the necessary arrangements for inoculation.

The Centre’s announcement came amid a surge in coronavirus cases in the country. “This step has been taken after detailed deliberations with the States/Union Territories on 31st March, 2021, to optimally utilise all Covid vaccination centres across the public and private sectors to ensure rapid increase in the pace and coverage of vaccination,” the health ministry said.

The government added that the vaccination drive is a tool to protect the country’s most vulnerable groups from the coronavirus, and it is being monitored at the highest level.

India began the third phase of its coronavirus vaccination drive earlier on Thursday. In this phase, all people above 45 years will be eligible for vaccination. The country has so far administered 6,51,17,896 vaccines doses.

The country registered 72,330 new coronavirus cases, on Thursday – its highest one-day jump in daily infections since October 11. The country’s overall tally rose to 1,22,21,665. India’s toll went up to 1,61,240 as 291 more deaths were registered in the last day.