Govt. to intensify tests from today, says Health Minister

Faced with a significant rise in the number of COVID-19 cases, the Telangana government has decided to intensify testing from Tuesday.

Health Minister Eatala Rajender said there had been a spike in the number of cases ever since lockdown restrictions were lifted and the increase was observed mainly in some parts of the west and south Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) limits.

Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao held a detailed review meeting on tackling the spread of the virus with senior officials on Sunday, and the State Cabinet would meet in the next four to five days to take a decision on the future course of action. “The Chief Minister stressed the need for strict measures to check the spread of the virus. Reimposing lockdown is a big decision and the Cabinet will meet soon in this regard,” he said.

The Chief Minister was in favour of strict enforcement of restrictions in the containment zones and it was, therefore, decided to intensify tests in the GHMC limits in general and containment zones in particular. The government had, therefore, set up special centres for coronavirus and it was decided to collect swab samples on a large scale from Tuesday, he said, adding that people diagnosed with symptoms would be provided treatment through home or institutional quarantine based on the advice of doctors.

He said the number of persons tested every day had increased to 4,000 from 1,500 and the tests were being conducted in line with the guidelines issued by the Indian Council for Medical Research. The government had kept 17,081 beds ready in different hospitals for treating COVID-19 patients.

Of these, around 10,000 would be equipped with oxygen supply line, which was essential in the treatment of the virus-affected people within a week. More than 3,500 beds had already been equipped with oxygen supply systems and establishing supply lines for the nearly 6,500 remaining beds would be completed in the next four to five days.

This was in addition to recruitment of 4,700 doctors and nursing staff and these new recruits would be deployed at all the designated treatment centres within a day or two. The government had initiated several confidence building measures to ensure that people did not panic.

However, apprehensions were being raised due to “irresponsible” posts on social media complaining about the absence of facilities at the government hospitals and indifference displayed by medical personnel in treating patients. The Minister pointed out that several health department employees (258), police personnel (185) and some elected representatives had also tested positive for the disease.

Only a head nurse working at a government hospital succumbed to the virus while two others died due to co-morbid conditions. All others were treated and cured of the virus. “It is not proper to cast aspersions on the government as nobody can question the commitment of the government and Chief Minister in taking steps necessary to check the spread of the virus,” he asserted.

The Minister said the fatality rate of 1.7% in the State which was almost half of the national average of more than 3% was indicative of the steps that had been taken to check the spread of the virus. Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar said the government had put in place necessary mechanisms to ensure that tests were conducted wherever required and the people, on their part, should take adequate care duly following the guidelines to ensure that they stayed safe.

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