New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: The Union Health Ministry on Friday expressed concerns over the massive gatherings at famous tourist destinations across India and said that they could become COVID-19 hotspots that could trigger the third wave of the pandemic.

Addressing a press conference, the Health Ministry urged people to continue following appropriate COVID-19 behaviour including usage of masks and sanitisers and practising social distancing as cases might rise again.

"We cannot lower our guard. A new risk is being seen at tourist spots where a gathering of crowds being seen, social distancing and mask protocol is not being followed. This is a serious cause of concern," Niti Aayog's Dr VK Paul was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

The Health Ministry also debunked myths around COVID-19 vaccination for pregnant women and said that vaccines are "safe and effective" against the infection. "Pregnant women should get vaccinated. It is very important," Dr Paul said.

On July 2, the Health Ministry had announced that pregnant women can also get vaccinated. It said that they can register on CoWin or walk-in to the nearest Covid Vaccination Centre (CVC) to get themselves vaccinated.

Meanwhile, Union Health Secretary Lav Agarwal said that more than half of the COVID-19 cases reported in India last week were from two states -- Maharashtra (21 per cent) and Kerala (32 per cent) -- and stressed on following containment measures.

The official said 80 per cent of the new Covid cases in India are reported from 90 districts in 15 states and union territories, which indicates the need for focussed attention in these areas.

He also said 66 districts across 17 states and UTs reported COVID-19 positivity rate of more than 10 per cent in the week ending July 8. He noted no case of Lambda variant of COVID-19 has been reported in India.

India logged 43,393 new coronavirus infections taking the total tally of cases to 3,07,52,950, while the active cases have declined to 4,58,727, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Friday. The death toll has climbed to 4,05,939 with 911 fresh fatalities.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma