India's devastating second coronavirus wave, which has raged since March and killed thousands of people, is not over yet, a senior government official said on Friday, warning citizens to avoid crowding at tourist places.
"The war is not over yet," Vinod Kumar Paul, who heads a federal government panel on vaccines told a news conference on Friday, minutes after a video was played showing maskless people crowding at a waterfall in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand.
India is now reporting a tenth of its peak daily numbers in May. On Friday, it reported 43,393 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, according to data from the health ministry, down from more than 400,000 in May.
Health officials said more than half of new COVID-19 infections were being reported from the southern state of Kerala and western state of Maharashtra, with the health ministry working with the states to control the spread of infections.
Kerala on Thursday reported 13,772 COVID-19 cases and has seen its daily case number rise in the past three days, prompting its health minister to warn that cases would not decline if safety protocols were not followed.
But health experts said the recent uptick in Kerala's numbers was not enough to point to a trend, and could be attributed to better testing and tracing facilities.
"The seven-day moving average has begun to move upwards in the last couple of days, but it would have to be a consistent upward trend to worry me," said Rijo John, a professor at the Rajagiri College of Social Sciences in the southern city of Kochi.
The country's vaccination drive has also slowed down, with less than a tenth of the 950 million eligible adult population fully vaccinated so far, two months after the federal government opened inoculations for all adults.
India administered an average of 3.7 million doses a day this week, similar to last week.