A possible third wave of the coronavirus infection could take place if people do not follow outbreak norms like maintaining hygiene and wearing masks, Maharashtra health minister Rajesh Tope said on Friday.
The minister also said there may be as many as 5,000 unreported COVID-19 deaths in the state, and these would be reconciled with the overall tally after all information about them is verified.
He told a regional news channel that it was not the crowd on the street that could trigger off a COVID-19 third wave, but "people not wearing masks and not following hygiene".
"Nobody can exactly predict a third wave. But by wearing masks and maintaining appropriate behavior, we can postpone its arrival and keep the impact to a minimum," Tope said.
On the issue of COVID-19 deaths and the updating of unreported cases on later days, Tope said the Maharashtra government would never hide such figures, but, in some cases, private hospitals are delaying in informing local civic authorities about fatalities in their facilities.
"I have come to know that in some cases, the patient's death information was reported after 15 days. Sometimes, death of patients who have been shifted from one district to another gets uploaded on the system multiple times. Hence, the state government carries out a reconciliation exercise to arrive at the exact figure," Tope said.
"The second wave hit very hard and all health systems came under stress. There may be some 5,000 unreported deaths in the state, which would be included in the overall report as soon as information verification is completed," Tope said.