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MUMBAI: At least half of Mumbai's under-18s have been exposed to COVID-19 and have antibodies against it, raising some hopes for levels of protection in that age group, a senior official said on Monday.

The figures came from a government survey in India's financial capital conducted from April to mid-June when the country was in the middle of a devastating second wave of the disease that left thousands dead.

Some experts have warned that a potential third wave could hit children, and Mumbai has joined other cities in building huge paediatric wards in preparation.

"This is good news because it shows that at least half the population below 18 is protected from COVID-19, but we will make sure that we don't let our guard down," Suresh Kakani, Mumbai's Additional Municipal Commissioner who oversaw the survey, said.

An estimated 1.5 million of Mumbai's 12.8 million population are younger than 18, and none of them have been vaccinated as India has not approved any shots for children, he said.

Mumbai would repeat the survey every three months, he added.

Daily cases have been declining across the country over the past three weeks.

But several states that came in for criticism for how they handled the second wave have been sharing plans for how they would handle any third surge in infections.

On Monday, India reported 46,148 new COVID-19 infections and 979 related deaths over the past 24 hours, data from the health ministry showed.

The country has reported a total of 30.27 million cases and 396,730 related deaths since the pandemic began.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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