New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: The Union Health Ministry on Friday warned against the decline in the use of facemasks, saying the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is not over yet. In a press briefing, the Health Ministry also expressed concerns over the "slow decline" in daily cases, saying the next three to four months will be very "critical" for the country.

"Analysis shows a projected decline in the use of facemasks as we resume activities. We should incorporate the use of facemasks in our lives as a new normal," Health Ministry Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

India was hit by the second COVID wave in April and May this year that led to an alarming spike in coronavirus cases. However, cases have been declinning slowly. On Friday, the country reported 38,949 fresh cases and 542 more fatalities that pushed the tally and toll to 3.10 crore and 4.12 lakh respectively.

As per the Health Ministry, 47 districts across 12 states and UTs reported over 10 per cent COVID-19 positivity rate for the week ending July 15. It said that only 73 districts have recorded more than 100 cases daily in the week ending on July 14.

'Vaccines are highly effective'

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry on Friday also defended the vaccines and said that they have been highly effective. Busting myths around vaccination, it said that pregnant and lactating women must get inoculated as soon as possible.

"One dose of vaccine was able to reduce the mortality rate by 82 per cent. Two doses of vaccine were successful in preventing 95 per cent of deaths due to COVID-19 during the second wave," Niti Aayog's Dr VK Paul was quoted as saying by ANI.

The COVID-19 vaccination drive was launched on January 16 after the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) gave its nod to Serum Institute's Covishield and Bharat Biotech's Covaxin for emergency use authorisation (EUA). Currently, India has four vaccines -- Covishield, Covaxin, Sputnik V and Moderna.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma