Telangana, the newly carved out state of South India headed by KCR, is heading towards a Coronavirus crisis as it is carrying out negligible testing. As of May 14, the state has carried out only 22,842 tests which is the lowest among the states and union territories with more than a crore population.
Telangana is among the well-off states of the country with high per capita income and better tax to GDP ratio, thanks to revenues from metropolis from Hyderabad. The state has a population of more than 3.5 crore people, but so far, it has lower number of tests compared to Assam and Chhattisgarh, which has much lower population and even lower test positivity rate.
Compared to Telangana, neighboring Andhra Pradesh, from which it was carved out a few years ago, conducted 2.1 lakh tests till May 14, 10 times more than the KCR headed state, while its population is around 5 crore, not even double of Telangana.
Earlier on 7 May, the state government was pulled up by the Union Health Secretary for “lack of proactive testing”. “We need to chase the virus rather than the virus chase us (sic),” Union Health Secretary Preeti Sudan wrote. But the state did not increase its daily testing numbers, nor changed the strategy.
So far, Telangana is testing only the people showing Coronavirus symptoms even in the containment zones. Given the fact that many of the patients are symptomatic; the people without symptoms could spread the virus in the entire locality if not tested and quarantined.
#Telangana testing figures-22,842 tests done as of May 14, probably one of the lowest in Country. Neighboring #Andhra did over 2 lakhtests. *In Telangana-no testing of Asymptomatic patients,no random testing,no Covid suspect dead testing until HC ordered State to do it #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/jGVSnbVPo7
— Rishika Sadam (@RishikaSadam) May 17, 2020
“#Telangana testing figures-22,842 tests done as of May 14, probably one of the lowest in Country. Neighboring #Andhra did over 2 lakhtests. *In Telangana-no testing of Asymptomatic patients,no random testing,no Covid suspect dead testing until HC ordered State to do it,” tweeted News 18 journalist Rishika Sadam.
The positivity rate of the state is the third highest below only Maharashtra and Gujarat- two major states which contribute around half of country’s total cases. Telangana is conducting only 225 tests per day while neighboring Andhra has reached 9,000 tests per day capacity. Telangana was not testing even dead patients until state high court pulled the government, and it is only government which is not reporting daily test figures in media briefing.
The state health minister defended state’s testing strategy. “We do not want to do indiscriminate testing of people just for the sake of figures. We have been conducting tests as per the ICMR guidelines only on those having genuine symptoms and also with co-morbid conditions, apart from those who had been the primary contacts of the positive cases,” said E Rajender, health minister of the state.
Meanwhile BJP has demanded resignation of state health minister and accused him of “endangering the entire population of Telangana by intentionally conducting the lowest number of tests than any other state in India, with a proportionate population,” said Krishnasagar Rao of BJP.
Telangana’s Coronavirus testing ratio of per million population is very low compared to other state despite high positivity which means the state is heading towards a major outbreak if situation is not controlled through quick decisions and actions.
But instead of taking action to contain the outbreak and carry aggressive Coronavirus testing and contact tracing, KCR is threatening the journalists who asked questions about shortage of PPEs and other medical equipments. “Who told you that we don’t have sufficient PPE kits? Do you know the number of how many PPE kits we have right now? Instead of building strength in doctors who are fighting against the pandemic, you are spreading fear among them. We will take strict action against them,” said KCR in a media briefing.
KCR’s whole strategy to contain the virus if focused on implementation of harsh lockdown, but experts warn that mere lockdown is no enough to contain the pandemic as any state or region or country could not keep its population behind the walls for long.