The Union home ministry on Tuesday asked all states and Union Territories to increase the pace and coverage of Covid-19 vaccinations and focus on a five-fold strategy to manage the pandemic, reported NDTV.

“Effective planning for vaccination focusing on prompt coverage of priority groups and hubs of economic activity should be prioritised,” Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said in a letter to states and Union Territories.

Bhalla said that the states and Union Territories should regularly monitor districts with a higher number of active cases per million (10 lakh) population as it is an important indicator to predict if there is a need to upgrade health infrastructure and logistics.

The secretary also advised the states and Union Territories to ensure that the process of relaxing restrictions is “carefully calibrated” and that it is in line with the guidelines of the Union health ministry. The letter said that it should be ensured that Covid-19 appropriate behaviour is strictly adhered to when relaxing curbs.

Bhalla said that proper Covid-appropriate behaviour includes mandatory use of face masks, hand hygiene, following physical distancing and proper ventilation of closed places, reported PTI.

“I would, therefore, urge you to issue directions to district and all other authorities concerned, to take necessary measures as advised by health ministry in their letter dated 28th June, 2021 for management of Covid-19,” he said.

The home secretary said if there is an increase in case positivity and bed occupancy, necessary action should be taken to contain the infection and to upgrade the health infrastructure. He advised the states and Union Territories to impose restrictions in such scenarios.

“I would also advise that the orders issued by the respective state governments, UT administrations, district authorities in this regard should be widely disseminated to the public and the field functionaries for their proper implementation,” Bhalla added.

The letter came during the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic that has badly affected the healthcare infrastructure. At its peak, the second wave led to more than 4 lakh daily cases and thousands of deaths every day. Several states experienced crippling shortages of oxygen, hospital beds, medical supplies and vaccines, causing citizens to take to social media to ask for help.

As cases have started to come down, states and Union Territories are lifting restrictions. However, there is a possibility of the third Covid-19 wave.

On Tuesday, India reported 37,566 new infections, taking the total number of cases since the Covid-19 outbreak to 3,03,16,897. This is the lowest single-day rise in cases since March 18, when the tally rose by 35,871. The country’s toll rose by 907 to 3,97,637.