Rajasthan Health Minister Dr Raghu Sharma on Friday said that experts believe that a second coronavirus wave can hit the state before December 15 and urged people to be cautious, wear masks, maintain physical distancing and wash hands on a daily basis to be safe, reported PTI.

“If people wear masks and maintain discipline for a month, then the coronavirus chain can be broken,” the health minister said in a statement.

Citing experts, Sharma said the coronavirus cases in the state would surge if there is a rise in pollution levels. Studies show that rising air pollution levels can add to coronavirus-related mortality. He also said that in winters, there would be an increase in cases of seasonal diseases, dengue, swine flu, cold and cough, among others.

“According to the experts, masks are better than vaccines as the effect of the vaccine will not be more than 60%, but by wearing masks regularly, the chances of infection can be brought down by 90%,” the health minister said, according to ANI. The international studies cited by the Indian Council of Medical Research on Covid-19-related mortality also say that wearing masks is the only effective way to tackle the twin public health crises.

Sharma further said that Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on October 2 had launched the “Public Movement Against Corona” campaign. As part of it, non-governmental organisations, teachers, National Cadet Corps, scout and guides, together with the local self government were distributing masks and raising awareness about the virus.

“Rajasthan is ready if the second wave of corona comes,” he said. “We have a lot of ICU [intensive care unit] beds, oxygen-supported beds, and general beds in the state.” He added that the demand for oxygen cylinders was about 13,000 per day when coronavirus cases in the state were at peak but it has now fallen to 6,000-7,000 oxygen cylinders per day.

Rajasthan has so far reported 2,05,800 Covid-19 cases and the toll stood at 1,955, according to the health ministry. There are 16,301 active cases and 1,87,544 recoveries in the state.