The Centre on Monday allowed on-site registrations and appointments for Covid-19 vaccination for beneficiaries between the ages of 18 and 44 on the government’s CoWin platform. Presently, the facility will only be available for government vaccination centres.

The government said that walk-in registrations might be necessary to minimise vaccine wastage in case the beneficiaries who booked online-only slots do not turn up and doses are left unused at the end of the day.

The Centre noted that those without internet facilities or smart phones may have limited access to vaccination. But did not mention any step to rectify this problem.

The Union government also left it to the states and Union territories to extend the on-site registration facility to the beneficiaries.

“States/UTs must decide on opening of on-site registrations/facilitated cohorts’ registration and appointments for 18-44 years age group based on the local context just as an additional measure to minimize vaccine wastage and for facilitating vaccination of eligible beneficiaries in the age group 18-44 years,” the Centre said.

The Centre also advised the states to ensure that opening on-site registrations does not lead to overcrowding at the vaccination centres.

Follow today’s updates on the Covid-19 crisis here.

All adults above the age of 18 were made eligible to get vaccinated in India from May 1, but the acute shortage of doses has curtailed the country’s inoculation drive that began from January.

All 400 coronavirus vaccination centres for the 18 to 44 age group in Delhi have been shut down, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said on Monday. He also accused the Centre of being responsible for the shortage of the vaccines.

The Aam Aadmi Party government also approached manufacturers Pfizer and Moderna for vaccine doses. But Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said they refused to sell the doses to them directly.

Delhi had floated a global tender amid a shortage of vaccines and had to pause the immunisation programme in the national Capital for the 18-44 age group on May 22.

On Sunday, the Punjab government too said that Moderna refused to supply its coronavirus vaccines directly to the state government.

Currently, 19.38 crore doses of the vaccine were administered in India, while 4.18 crore beneficiaries received both shots, according to government data.

Thus, only 2.97% of India’s 140 crore population were fully vaccinated as of now. On May 13, NITI Aayog member VK Paul had said that India will have 216 crore doses of Covid-19 vaccines by the end of 2021. However, the calculation furnished by the government included eight vaccines, out of which five have not yet been authorised in India, or anywhere else.

Steady decline in Covid cases in India, says health ministry

The health ministry said on Monday that there had been a continuous decline in Covid-19 cases since India reached its peak on May 7, when it recorded 4.14 lakh daily infections.

During a briefing on India’s Covid-19 situation, Lav Agarwal, the joint secretary of the Union health ministry, also said that there had been a steady decline in the weekly positivity rate. He added that the number of tests conducted in the last 15 weeks had increased by 2.6 times, according to PTI.

On Pfizer and Moderna refusing to sell vaccines directly to the states, the health ministry said: “Most of the time their order is already full. It depends on their surplus how much they can provide to India. They will come back to the government of India and we will ensure and facilitate the supply.”

Meanwhile, All India Institute of Medical Sciences Director Dr Randeep Guleria said that mucormycosis, or black fungus, was not a communicable infection. “In 90% to 95% cases, it is found in cases where patients are diabetic and have been given steroids,” he added.

The doctor also clarified that naming the same fungus on the basis of its colours and the area of infection was creating confusion.

“In general, the types of fungus that we are mostly seeing are Mucormycosis, Candida and Aspergillosis,” he said during the briefing, reported NDTV. “Mucormycosis is being found more in cases where Covid is compounded with steroids and diabetes.”

He also said that the Candida fungus was appearing in patients with a weak immune system or taking immune-suppressants.

Guleria also said Covid-19 was causing mild symptoms in children. He added that there was no evidence to suggest that the third wave of the pandemic would be more harmful for them.

However, children suffered “collateral damage” due to mental stress and disruption in education amid the pandemic, Guleria added.

India on Monday reported 2,22,315 new coronavirus cases, taking the infection tally to 2,67,52,447 since the pandemic first broke out in January 2020. The toll climbed by 4,454 to 3,03,720. With this, India is now the third country in the world, after the United States and Brazil, to log over 3 lakh deaths.