On the back of a 17.7 per cent rise in coronavirus cases in Maharashtra this week when compared to last week, the state health department on Monday cited the XBB variant, found for the first time in the country, as well as winters and the festive season as factors that could fuel further spikes.
A health official department bulletin said the XBB variant reported in the state had "growth advantage over BA.2.75 and immune evasive property".
The BA.2.3.20 and BQ.1 variants have also been detected in the state, a first for the country, it added.
It said new COVID-19 cases rose by 17.17 per cent in the October 10-16 period when compared to last week between October 3 and 9, with the rise being noticed particularly in densely-populated Thane, Raigad and Mumbai.
"Some experts are predicting a rise (in cases) in the coming winter season, especially in festive environs," the bulletin cautioned.
It said the proportion of BA.2.75, an Omicron sub-variant, among cases detected had decreased from 95 per cent to 76 per cent.
The state health department said people must not ignore flu-like symptoms and should get medical advice at the earliest.
"They must observe COVID appropriate behaviour at the earliest. Persons with comorbidities need to take extra precaution while visiting public places. Persons suffering with influenza-like illness should avoid public contacts as much as possible," the department's bulletin advised.