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Alarmed by spike in Covid cases, Telangana scales down testing

作者:admin 2020-07-01

Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar said the government was testing as per ICMR guidelines. “We are doing focused and targeted testing wherever necessary. We are doing enough tests as per ICMR guidelines,’’ he said. (File Photo)

Alarmed by the high number of Covid-19 positive cases after it ramped up testing, the Telangana government has now scaled it down. The increase in testing had resulted in the number of positive cases in the state tripling in a fortnight.

Till June 15, there were 5,193 Covid-19 cases in the state. This went up to 15,394 by June 29. After increasing the tests to over 4,000 per day on June 24, authorities brought it down to 2,648 on June 29.

After facing flak from the High Court for low testing, the state government had on June 17 submitted an affidavit that it will conduct 50,000 tests in 10 days. The government scaled up testing from an average of 700 per day to over 3,000, but was alarmed by the high number of samples testing positive. For example, 2,477 tests were conducted on June 19 out of which 499 samples tested positive. On June 26, 4,374 tests were conducted and 985 samples tested positive. As many as 1087 samples tested positive on June 27 out of the 3,923 samples tested. On June 29, the authorities scaled down to conducting 2,648 tests but 975 samples still tested positive.

Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar said the government was testing as per ICMR guidelines. “We are doing focused and targeted testing wherever necessary. We are doing enough tests as per ICMR guidelines,’’ he said.

More than 74 per cent of the cases — 11,527 — have been reported from Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) area. Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao has called for a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday to decide whether to impose a lockdown in GHMC areas to contain the spread of the outbreak.

Asked why the government was hesitant to increase testing, Health Minister Etela Rajender said they were conducting the required number of tests per day on highly vulnerable groups like medical staff and health and sanitation workers. “These groups are more exposed to the virus than anyone else so we are conducting tests among those groups. Hyderabad is a big, cosmopolitan city and like all other big cities, there is an increase in the number of cases,’’ he said. The government has also asked private labs not to entertain requests from people without any symptoms to get tested.

Meanwhile, the government on Tuesday told the high court that it was postponing all common entrance tests in the state after the court asked how it was planning to hold the exams if there was a possibility of imposing a lockdown.

The court has also asked the state government’s opinion by July 9 on cancelling final exams of UG and PG courses exams and promoting students based on past performance.

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