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With surge in COVID cases in towns, T redraws strategy

With surge in COVID cases in towns, T redraws strategy

With the spike in COVID-19 cases in districts setting alarm bells ringing, the Telangana government has started focusing on containing the spread in towns and rural areas.

The health authorities, who have so far been focusing mainly on Hyderabad, are now taking steps to ramp up testing and treatment infrastructure in the districts.

With towns like Nizamabad, Karimnagar, Warangal, Nalgonda and Khammam witnessing a surge in infections in recent days, the health department is redrawing its strategy to contain the virus spread.

Health officials said that as the state capital already has the best infrastructure in place, they were now focusing on other parts of the state.

The districts are witnessing a rapid increase in cases than Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), which covers the city and suburbs.

Unlike in April-May when 10-15 districts out of 33 were reporting very few or no cases and in June when 80-90 per cent new daily infections were being reported from GHMC, the cases are now being recorded from all districts. The caseload of GHMC has come down to 50 per cent.

Officials attribute this to the increased movement of people from GHMC to the districts. They believe people carried the virus from Hyderabad to other towns and villages due to movement allowed in the current unlock period.

Hinting at the possibility of a community spread, Director of Public Health G. Srinivas Rao last week urged people to be extremely careful for the next 4-5 weeks.

"COVID-19 has entered into the community. It's hard to trace where and how the virus comes from and there is no other way but to take precautions," he said

The government apparently realized the need to focus on districts in view of the alarming situation in Andhra Pradesh, where the cases have crossed one lakh while more than 1,000 people have succumbed to the virus.

To tackle any contingency, Athe Telangana government is taking steps to improve the infrastructure in the districts.

Leading the efforts is Health Minister Eatala Rajender himself. He visited Kamareddy and Nizamabad districts on Sunday and will be visiting Warangal district on Tuesday to review the preparedness of district level health authorities in tackling COVID crisis.

As of Sunday, Telangana had 55,532 COVID cases and 471 fatalities. Though the situation is not as bad as in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh in terms of both number of cases and fatalities, experts attribute this to fewer number of tests conducted in Telangana.

The authorities ramped up testing during the last 3-4 weeks but the number is still lower than many other states. As of Sunday, Telangana conducted 3,63,242 while the other Telugu state conducted 16,86,446 tests.

Telangana is reporting over 1,500 new cases on a daily basis. The statistics show that one new infection is being reported every minute.

The first case in the state was detected on March 2. Officials said the situation was under control during lockdown but the virus spread started with the easing of lockdown norms in May. This month alone till July 26, the state registered 39,193 cases.

The media bulletin of the health department shows that out of 61 government-run hospitals providing COVID treatment in the state, 52 are in districts. However, due to poor infrastructure at these hospitals in the towns, most of the people testing positive are coming to the state capital for treatment.

Out of 55 private hospitals offering COVID-19 treatment, almost all are located in GHMC and adjoining districts of Rangareddy and Medchal Malkajgiri.

Director of Medical Education Ramesh Reddy has appealed to people to seek the treatment in their respective districts. He said the testing facilities were also being improved in districts.

According to the media bulletin, seven out of 16 government-run testing laboratories are outside GHMC. All 23 laboratories in private sectors are located in the state capital.

The government has also set up 320 rapid antigen testing centres at primary health centres. However, nearly 200 of them have come up in Hyderabad and adjoining districts of Rangareddy and Medchal Malkajgiri

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