Telangana Covid-19 Update: Mismanagement Alert

Telangana Covid-19 Update: Mismanagement Alert

Telangana Coronavirus Update
  • The sole positive factor is that the bulk of the current cases are located in the Hyderabad city region.

    As on 26 June, Hyderabad accounts for 73 percent of the cases reported in Telangana (8,333 of 11,364).

After three full months of the Wuhan Virus pandemic hitting India, it appears that the contagion has suddenly metastasised in Telangana to acute proportions.

Cases have risen sharply in the past week, and the causes appear to be an administrative equivalent of trying to close the stable doors after the horses have bolted.

Sadly, this unfortunate turn of events has taken place just when most other states are on the cusp of a plateau, or are on the verge of flattening the curve.

Latest data shows that the state government there has put up simply the most lethargic administrative response to the epidemic in India.

For reasons best known to Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao (KCR) of the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), his Cabinet, electoral alliance partner Asaduddin Owaisi, and senior officials, their approach has thus far been dangerously slothful.

To make matters worse, the KCR government released testing data only on four days between mid-March and mid-June: 19, 28 and 29 April, and 16 May. Unbelievable but true!

Consequently, such an absurdly sporadic and mysteriously cagey release of health data by the state government gives rise to needless suspicions, and makes tongues wag exactly when they mustn’t.

The bottom line is that KCR’s containment efforts have not worked, and the data does not lie:

First, as the chart below shows, case counts have started shooting up since the middle of June.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Second, the magnitude of this recent surge is further highlighted in a different plot below, wherein daily cases are plotted against cumulative cases on logarithmic scales:

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Note how the yellow curve cuts dramatically across growth exponent curves.

Third, this surge is exacerbated by a paucity of testing, which is the most alarming factor.

As a result, the contagion has spread, and positivity is shooting up in tandem with rising case counts at nigh the fastest pace in the country. This is proved by a comparative positivity plot placed below:

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Note how the Telangana curve (the broad, maroon line) is presently rising at a much steeper rate than even Maharashtra (black), or Delhi (green).

Fourth, testing rates in the state are at abysmal levels; as a chart below shows, Telangana ranks near the bottom of the list on any parameter.

It is in shameful contention for last place, even when compared to small states with relatively microscopic populations like Mizoram and Sikkim:

Telangana Covid-19 Update: Mismanagement Alert

Readers have only to look at the position of the Telangana curve in the chart above (the broad, maroon line at bottom right), and note its extent of truncation due to lack of information, to understand the situation there.

A cumulative testing plot given below tells an even sadder story.

Telangana is today still at an appalling testing point which well-managed states had already crossed a month or two ago: just 70,934 tests as on date, compared to double that in smaller, neighbouring Chhattisgarh, ten times more in Andhra, and barely a tad more than tiny Goa (58584 tests).

Telangana Covid-19 Update: Mismanagement Alert

Fifth, no material information on contact tracing is available in the public domain.

That is both strange and counterproductive, because testing and tracing have to go hand in hand if containment efforts are to succeed.

It’s a question to ponder, that an Asaduddin Owaisi, who is forever badgering the Union government to function in a transparent manner, and come clean on every matter under the sun, conveniently seeks refuge in reticence when it concerns a grave health crisis manifesting itself within his own constituency. Now why is that?

However, the sole positive factor is that the bulk of the current cases are located in the Hyderabad city region.

As on 26 June, Hyderabad accounts for 73 percent of the cases reported in Telangana (8,333 of 11,364).

Add adjoining Ranga Reddy and Medchal Malkajgiri districts, parts of whose boundaries include the urban suburbs of Hyderabad, and this figure goes up to 85 percent.

This means that the situation is geographically restricted for the most part, and can be tackled successfully if the state government finally gets its act together.

Thus, to say that the health crisis in Telangana is not insignificant would be the understatement of the century. One can only hope that the government of the day follows the examples of Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu or Andhra Pradesh, soon.

If not, people, whose livelihoods are being ruined, may start asking whether KCR forced the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, only to separate the noble Telugu-speaking people of Telangana from their fortunes.

All data from and MoHFW.

Venu Gopal Narayanan is an independent upstream petroleum consultant who focuses on energy, geopolitics, current affairs and electoral arithmetic. He tweets at @ideorogue.

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