While Andhra Pradesh has emerged as the worst-affected state by coronavirus pandemic in the country, even globally in single-day spikes, Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy on Tuesday claimed that his government’s focused testing strategy to detect COVID-19 cases early was paying dividends.
In a video conference with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister claimed that AP has succeeded in keeping the peak positivity rate below 20 per cent and the mortality rate below one per cent. Jagan told the PM that Andhra Pradesh is the only state that has conducted more than 25 lakh tests so far, 49,459 tests being conducted for every 10 lakh population. “We have ramped up testing in clusters. We are conducting more tests in places where there is a possibility of higher positive cases being detected. Around 80 to 90 per cent of tests are being conducted in clusters,” Jagan told the Prime Minister who interacted with the Chief Ministers of 10 states and reviewed the coronavirus COVID-19 situation in the country and further measures required to check its spread.
The state has so far reported 2,35,525 positive cases with 2,116 deaths. Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering (JHU CSSE) study showed that Andhra Pradesh in the last few days has been among the regions with the most new cases globally, next only to the United States and Brazil, and Colombia on some days. “Many of our districts are facing their peak. We have succeeded in keeping the mortality less than one per cent. We have increased testing, early detection and contact tracing. We have employed over two lakh volunteers for the job.
Jagan also informed Modi that Andhra Pradesh has more than 56,000 beds in 138 hospitals (government and private) for COVID-19 patients. “This includes 4,320 ICU and 17,228 with oxygen supply facilities. There are 108 Covid care centers. We have ramped up the oxygen facility to 11,000 from earlier 3286. In the last three months, our government has provided 7,000 beds. We had 443 108 ambulances before the outbreak of the pandemic. Today, we have added 768 to the existing fleet of 108 ambulances. We have filled vacant posts in hospitals. Our government has also filled 5,000 additional posts,” Jagan said in the video-conference with the PM.
After surpassing Delhi and Karnataka Andhra Pradesh is now racing ahead to become the country’s second worst-hit state in terms of coronavirus infections. The state had been reporting the highest single-day surge in the country for nearly a month. In the last 14 days alone, AP reported more than one lakh Covid-19 positive cases.
While the state administration attributes the alarming rise to heightened testing, experts blame it on the callous approach of the AP government in handling the pandemic and its failure to take the warnings seriously early on. Jagan has consistently sought to downplay the public health risk of the burgeoning pandemic while his administration has been slow to respond to the crisis.