These Three Developments Suggest All May Not Be Well With Telangana’s Handling Of Covid-19

These Three Developments Suggest All May Not Be Well With Telangana’s Handling Of Covid-19

by M R Subramani - Friday, May 15, 2020 02:55 PM IST
These Three Developments Suggest All May Not Be Well With Telangana’s Handling Of Covid-19Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao
  • There are reasons to believe that, perhaps, Telangana has something to hide.

Three separate developments in Telangana have raised many eyebrows over how the K Chandrashekar Rao government is handling the current situation arising out of the spread of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) in the state.

The first is the petitions filed with the Telangana High Court seeking more coronavirus tests.

On Thursday (14 May), the Telangana High Court ordered the state government to conduct Covid-19 tests on bodies of the dead.

According to The Hans India, the order was in response to a petition filed by one, Chikkuda Prabhakar, pleading for large-scale tests to detect the virus.

The petition’s argument was that more tests are necessary since the state was entering the third stage of coronavirus that results in community spread.

Taking up another petition demanding more tests in Suryapet district, the High Court dismissed it saying the court cannot compel the government. But the issue raised by the petitioner was that health officials were testing only primary suspects and not asymptomatic patients.

The petitioner, Varun Sankineni, argued that tests conducted in Telangana were lower than the national average.

The second is a complaint by Aditya Belde, whose paternal uncle died on 10 May after testing positive for coronavirus.

Deccan Chronicle quoted as Belde refuting the Telangana government’s claim that there was no coronavirus-related death on 10 May. The death was not accounted for in the bulletins on subsequent days too.

The relative said his uncle had died at the government-run Gandhi Hospital and wondered why the death was not included despite officials having adequate time to include it in their daily bulletin.

Belde’s uncle, who was suffering from a heart ailment, was taken to a private hospital on 7 May after his health deteriorated. The family was asked to take him to a government hospital to test him for coronavirus.

He was taken to the Gandhi Hospital, from where he was sent back saying he did not have Covid-19. But as his condition got worse, he was rushed to a corporate hospital, where he was put on a ventilator.

The hospital authorities also told the family that he needed to be tested for Covid-19. Samples of his swab were sent to Gandhi Hospital, which reported that the patient had tested positive.

He was then transferred to Gandhi Hospital and Belde was asked to accompany him to get the patient admitted. Belde then returned home.

On Sunday, a policeman called Belde to tell him that his uncle had passed away and the body was cremated that evening. Belde has raised suspicion over the way the case was handled since the corporate hospital had collected Rs 1.7 lakh before the doctors told them about the test result.

The third development is the objection that doctors and public health specialists had raised with the inter-ministerial central team of officials when they visited the state in the last week of April.

Some of these specialists under the umbrella of Doctors for Seva, told the central team that the official bulletin from Telangana government was not giving the real picture.

The doctors pointed out that on 20 April, the state Health Department ordered that samples must not be taken from the bodies of those suspected to have died of Covid-19.

Stating that it was a risky strategy, they said the state government follows international guidelines which have been chalked out and (which) brought the situation in control in Europe, China and the United States.

A pertinent point raised by these doctors is that how the situation has been handled in Suryapet. The area reported 83 Covid-19 cases but no testing was carried out after 23 April there.

Doctors for Seva said that people suffering from bilateral pneumonia, chest scans showing abnormal conditions and patients in intensive care units of private hospitals were not tested for coronavirus.

This was against the guidelines of the Indian Council of Medical Research, they said, offering to help the government fight Covid-19 provided the state government was clear and transparent.

There are reasons to believe that probably, Telangana has something to hide. One, despite the state reporting lower numbers of Covid-19 cases, it is insisting on not relaxing the lockdown curbs until 29 May.

Experts wonder if the state had only 1,414 cases as reported and if the number of active cases is only 428 why should the state extend the curbs.

The other reason is the number of tests conducted by Telangana. Economic Times reported that the state had not released testing data since 29 April. Until that time, it had tested only 19,278 persons with 1,096 reporting positive.

The fear is that Telangana is reporting low numbers since an inadequate number of people have been tested. In contrast, neighbouring Andhra Pradesh has conducted over 1.75 lakh tests.

Tamil Nadu, which has witnessed a surge in the coronavirus numbers since the beginning of this month taking the total to nearly 10,000 infections, has conducted nearly 3 lakh tests.

M.R. Subramani is Executive Editor, Swarajya. He tweets @mrsubramani

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