Hyderabad: The nation received its first COVID-19 positive case in February. However, the always sleeping government only started taking steps against the pandemic in late March. Meanwhile, Telangana reported its first positive case, which had a history of travelling abroad, on March 2.
Meanwhile, on March 8 our beloved Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao announced how the high temperature would obliterate the virus. In one of his first press meets, he announced that the government’s plans of spending 1,000 crores to the fight the virus.
“No MLA is wearing masks in our Assembly, including the Health Minister Etela Rajender who is dealing with the issue round-the-clock. That is the level of confidence we have,” the Chief Minister said.
He assured the people that if in case the virus did make an appearance in the state, he along with all Ministers and legislators will jump into the field without even wearing masks and serve the people. “We are willing to spend even Rs 1,000 crore if there is a threat to the state on account of coronavirus,” KCR added.
The Chief Minister said that recently an expert on COVID 19 had assured that the virus perishes in temperatures above 22 degrees Celsius, and a prescription of paracetamol will give relief. “The temperature in Telangana is now above 30 degrees Celsius, and there is little chance of the virus surviving under such conditions,” he said.
Contrary to this notion, the virus did not vanish with a high temperature crossing 47 degrees Celsius this year.
Speed of testing and late permission to the private labs turns out to be a big failure
Importance of testing
Dr Eduardo Sanchez, an American Heart Association’s chief medical officer for prevention and a former state health commissioner — Texas USA said, “Whenever there is a major public health crisis like coronavirus the ideal response should to test as early as possible. As it leads to quick identification of cases, quick treatment for those people and immediate isolation to prevent the spread. Early testing also helps identify anyone who came into contact with infected people so they too can be treated quickly.”
Despite its importance, the Telangana government from June 15 is only conducting 1,713 per million tests per day. Meanwhile, smaller states like Jharkhand and Odisha seem to be faring better with 3,374 and 5,059 tests per million on a daily basis.
Private labs denied testing facilities until June 15
Although allowed by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), which is overseeing India’s battle against coronavirus, to conduct tests, private labs have been barred by the state government from doing so. The report has been published in various newspapers on May 31.
However, labs have refused all requests, saying they are awaiting an “official order from the state health department.”
“We have been specifically told that we cannot test until we get a go-ahead from the government,” said a senior lab assistant at one of the ICMR-approved Hyderabad-based labs.
An Apollo Hospitals spokesperson said the same thing, stating that they are “still waiting for an official order from the state government”. “Until then, we cannot start testing,” the spokesperson added.
Why didn’t the government allow testing in private labs?
Even until June 15, only 400 were tested per day. Though only after June 15, private labs were given the green light to test with various norms.
The only answer as to why the government has not tested much even as circumstances have deteriorated is this — a negligent attitude. Meanwhile, other countries like the USA and UK are conducting more than two lakh tests per day.
Not just everyday people, but foreign returnees have not been tested even in light of constant requests. On May 28, Prajeeth, 33, a mechanical engineer, who returned from London, said they had “to put so much pressure on the hotel staff,” but could not be tested. Meanwhile, Suchita Kodagi said all her appeals fall on deaf ears too. “Even I made calls and spoke to the person in charge of tourism at the hotel but was told they have no permission from the state. Is foreign travel not enough of a reason?” she added.
This, despite the fact that the number of cases in Telangana has increased amidst the foreign arrivals. According to the health bulletin issued on Friday at 9 pm, 30 such people have tested positive so far. No fresh case was reported among the repatriated Indians on Saturday.
So how can positive cases be reported considering the fact that there is little to no testing?