LIVE - Cases declining very slowly, this is a warning for 3rd wave: Govt

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(REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui)
(REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui)

The decline in cases in the country is slow; a warning amid the impending third wave of the pandemic, the government said on Friday, adding that the next three to four months were ‘critical’ for the fight against Covid-19.

In a Health Ministry briefing on Friday, Joint Secretary (Health) Lav Agarwal said the arrival of the third wave of Covid-19 would depend on people’s behaviour and the number of vaccinations administered in the country.

India witnessed a devastating second wave of the pandemic in April and May this year, which saw record infections and deaths, as people struggled for healthcare facilities and medical oxygen. Experts forewarn that another wave of Covid-19 may hit the country in August or October, this time affecting children more.

The second wave had prompted rigourous lockdowns in various states. However, as cases come down and restrictions are relaxed, a drop in adherence to Covid-appropriate protocol is also being witnessed. According to Agarwal, analysis shows a projected decline in the use of face masks as activities resume. “We should incorporate the use of face masks in our lives as a new normal,” he said.

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The Supreme Court asked the Uttar Pradesh government to apprise it by July 19 on whether it would reconsider its decision to hold a 'symbolic' Kanwar Yatra in the state, saying the right to life is paramount. The top court's direction came after the Uttar Pradesh government told the bench that it has decided after relevant discussions to hold a 'symbolic' Kanwar Yatra with appropriate COVID-19 restrictions.

India recorded 38,949 new COVID-19 cases, which took the infection tally to 3,10,26,829, while the death toll reached 4,12,531 with 542 more fatalities, according to Union Health Ministry data on Friday. The 542 new fatalities included 170 deaths from Maharashtra and 87 from Kerala, the ministry said.

In total, 4,12,531 deaths have been reported in the country, including 1,26,560 from Maharashtra, 36,037 from Karnataka, 33,606 from Tamil Nadu, 25,022 from Delhi, 22,705 from Uttar Pradesh, 17,970 from West Bengal and 16,212 from Punjab.

The Maharashtra government has exempted those people who have got both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from carrying a negative RT-PCR test report for entering the state, although there has to be a gap of at least 15 days between the second dose and the date of arrival.

This exemption is applicable to domestic as well as international travellers, it added.

Despite the exemption order in place, all passengers irrespective of the status of vaccination must follow COVID-appropriate behaviour all the time, the order said.

The time interval of the validity of the RT-PCR test for all other persons will be 72 hours instead of 48 hours, it added.

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