With nearly 28,000 positive Covid-19 cases, more than half of them in Greater Hyderabad, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Dr Harsh Vardhan on Wednesday held a meeting with Minister of State for Home Kishan Reddy over the rising cases of coronavirus in Telangana.
It is learnt that Harsha Vardhan in the meeting with Kishan Reddy took stock of the situation in Telangana. He had enquired about the measures being initiated by the KCR government to contain the spread of the virus in the state.
It is learnt that Kishan Reddy had apprised the Health Minister on various aspects of handling the pandemic such as testing, tracing, community surveillance, hospital management, identification of isolation wards, availability of Personal Protective Equipments and masks.
The Union Health Minister sought information on the number of tests being conducted in Telangana following a NITI Aayog report in which Telangana has been named as a state with the second-lowest Covid-19 testing rate in the country. Based on the number of Covid-19 tests the states have conducted per million population, Telangana is just above the bottom-placed Bihar. According to the list, the number of tests per million in Telangana was a meagre 2,637.
Harsha Vardhan’s meeting assumes significance in the backdrop of Telangana witnessing an alarming surge in coronavirus cases, with 1,800 new infections per day. Telangana is one of several states that has seen a surge in new Covid-19 cases after the state had rolled back complete lockdown. The percentage of positive tests has nearly doubled in the past few weeks. On Tuesday, the state reported 1,875 new cases taking the corona tally to 27,612 and seven new deaths taking the total number of fatalities to 313. Of the 1,875 new cases, a whopping 1,422 positive cases were reported in GHMC limits.
Telangana Governor Dr Tamilisai Soundarajan also expressed her displeasure over the state government’s response to COVID-19 after she had visited the Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences. She had also held a meeting with Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar and Principal Health Secretary at Raj Bhavan to assess the situation in the state. Earlier, she had expressed unhappiness over low testing and advised the government to increase testing to detect Covid-19 cases.
The Telangana High Court too made critical observations over the government’s handling of the pandemic. Hearing a petition on lack of medical gear for the frontline warriors and low testing, the High Court had questioned the AG on how many PPE, N95 masks and other equipment were provided to the doctors and medical health workers in the combat against Covid-19. The court had also taken note of the low COVID-19 testing rates in the state. The High Court had asked the state government on how many tests were conducted and how many samples were taken during a month’s period between May 23 to June 23.
The court had also asked the KCR government to increase corona testing by using Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) in view of rise in Covid-19 cases in the state. Further, the court also directed the government to submit a report on the efforts initiated to trace primary and secondary contacts of the infected people. The High Court warned that the CS, Principal Health Secretary, Public Health Director and health commissioner will have to personally appear before it on July 20 if it finds the government’s report unsatisfactory.