The Centre on Saturday asked all states and Union Territories to ensure that there was no complacency in adhering to coronavirus-appropriate behaviour, ANI reported. It said easing of lockdown restrictions across India has led to crowding in markets and other places.

In a letter to chief secretaries, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla urged states to implement the test-track-treat-vaccinate strategy to contain the spread of infection. He stressed that vaccination was critical to break the chain of transmission of virus.

Bhalla said Covid-19 cases rose significantly in several states during the second wave of the pandemic. “I would like to highlight that the decision to impose or ease the restriction has to be taken based on the assessment of the situation at the ground level,” the letter said. “While the opening up of activities after decline in cases is essential, states and UTs must ensure that the process is carefully calibrated.”

He also asked states to closely watch early signs of jump in active cases or high positivity rate. “A system should be in place at the micro-level to ensure that whenever cases rise in a smaller place, it gets checked there itself, through local containment measures as per the guidelines issued by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare,” Bhalla said.

Earlier on Saturday, All India Institute of Medical Sciences chief Randeep Guleria told NDTV that with crowds building up, the “inevitable” third wave of infections could hit the country in the next six to eight weeks.

India has had the second-highest tally of coronavirus infections in the world after the United States, with 2,98,23,546 cases and 3,85,137 deaths, according to the health ministry data. Infections peaked in May with about 4 lakh new cases a day, but eventually dropped. On Saturday, India reported 60,753 new cases.

At its peak, the second wave of the pandemic had overwhelmed hospitals and crematoriums across the country. Several states also grappled with a severe shortage of oxygen and hospital beds.

Experts have cautioned against a full re-opening as India has vaccinated only about 5% of its adult population so far, over five months after the vaccination drive was launched.