A health worker collects a traveler’s mouth swab outside a train station in Bengaluru, India, on Monday, February 22, 2021 to test for COVID-19. In some parts of India, cases of COVID-19 are taking months to decline after months of nationwide persistence, leading authorities to impose bans and other virus restrictions. (AP Photo / Aijaz Rahi)

In some parts of India, cases of COVID-19 are on the rise after months of steady nationwide decline, prompting authorities to issue bans and other virus restrictions.

In India, infections have fallen sharply since September, and life has already returned to normal in much of the country. In many cities, the markets are busy, the streets are crowded and the restaurants are almost full.

However, experts warn that the reasons for India’s success are not really understood and that the country of nearly 1.4 billion people cannot afford to lose its vigilance. Public health officials are currently investigating possible mutations in the virus that could make it more contagious and make some treatments and vaccines less effective.

The spike was most pronounced in the western state of Maharashtra, where nearly 7,000 cases have been discovered in the past 24 hours, almost half of the over 14,000 cases confirmed in India on Monday. The weekly average for infections has nearly doubled in the past two weeks to 5,229 in the state, and most cases have concentrated in a few areas, including India’s financial capital, Mumbai.

Bans have been re-imposed in some parts of the state and authorities have banned all religious or cultural programs. Another wave of cases was “knocking on our door,” President Uddhav Thackeray said in a virtual address on Sunday as he warned people that failure to comply with public health measures such as wearing masks would result in larger and stricter lockdowns could lead.

  • India sees new lockdowns as coronavirus cases rise again

    Family members wearing face masks as a precaution against the coronavirus wait in front of a train station in Bengaluru, India on Monday, February 22, 2021. In some parts of India, cases of COVID-19 are on the rise after months of steady nationwide decline, leading authorities to impose bans and other virus restrictions. (AP Photo / Aijaz Rahi)

  • India sees new lockdowns as coronavirus cases rise again

    People wearing face masks against the coronavirus as a precaution will arrive at a train station in Bengaluru, India on Monday, February 22, 2021. In some parts of India, cases of COVID-19 are on the rise after months of steady nationwide decline, prompting authorities to impose bans and other virus restrictions. (AP Photo / Aijaz Rahi)

  • India sees new lockdowns as coronavirus cases rise again

    A health worker collects a nasal swab from a traveler in front of a train station in Bengaluru, India, to test for COVID-19 on Monday, February 22, 2021. In some parts of India, cases of COVID-19 are taking months to decline after months of nationwide persistence, leading authorities to impose bans and other virus restrictions. (AP Photo / Aijaz Rahi)

  • India sees new lockdowns as coronavirus cases rise again

    Community officials interact with travelers before collecting a fine if they fail to wear face masks outside a bus stop in Bengaluru, India on Monday February 22, 2021. In some parts of India, cases of COVID-19 are on the rise after months of steady nationwide decline, leading authorities to impose bans and other virus restrictions. (AP Photo / Aijaz Rahi)

  • India sees new lockdowns as coronavirus cases rise again

    A health worker collects a traveler’s mouth swab outside a train station in Bengaluru, India, on Monday, February 22, 2021 to test for COVID-19. In some parts of India, cases of COVID-19 are taking months to decline after months of nationwide persistence, leading authorities to impose bans and other virus restrictions. (AP Photo / Aijaz Rahi)

Public health officials are also sequencing the virus to see if it has mutated to make it easier to spread, said state surveillance official Dr. Pradeep Awate. He said that the virus would develop naturally, but that the consequences of its development of being transmitted faster or becoming more virulent could be “catastrophic”.

Federal health officials said an increase in new infections, although not as strong as in Maharashtra, has also been reported in the northern Indian state of Punjab, as well as in the central states of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

Officials added that a team from federal health officials was also taken to the southern state of Kerala, where cases ranged from 4,000 to 5,000 over the past month, much higher than other states. Government-funded research has suggested that a more contagious version of the virus may be at play in Kerala, and efforts to sequence its genome are ongoing.

But that could be because Kerala didn’t see a surge in infections over the past year like it did in some other states, said Dr. Amar Fettle, the state’s knot officer for COVID-19. This meant that when lockdown restrictions were relaxed and people moved freely, there was a large chunk of people left who hadn’t been exposed to the virus and were prone to infection, he said.

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