WITH more than 16,000 fresh coronavirus cases reported on Thursday in a new single-day high, the Centre announced it will be sending a team of experts to Telangana, Maharashtra and Gujarat — three states with high positivity rates that are considered critical in the efforts against the pandemic.
Sources said experts may also be sent to Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, which are also seen as requiring advice and assistance on clinical management. The Centre is already closely monitoring the Covid-19 situation in Delhi, the city with the most number of cases.
The government is said to be especially concerned about Telangana, where testing has remained low and positivity rate high. Sources said the Central team, including specialists and epidemiologists led by Joint Secretary (Health) Lav Agarwal, will be stationed for two days there, against one each in Maharashtra and Gujarat.
A senior Health Ministry official said, “Further handholding and assistance are required in the three states. Senior epidemiologists from the Directorate General of Health Services and team doctors will visit them.
On Friday, the team will visit Gujarat, followed by Maharashtra on Saturday. It will be in Telangana on Sunday and Monday.”
Telangana’s high positivity rate has led to fears that a large number of cases might be going undetected. “The confirmation rate is as high as 18%,” the source pointed out, nearly three times higher than the national average of 6.3%.
On Telangana’s testing rate, the official said, “While it has increased, tests per million are still very low. Against the country average of around 4,800 tests per million, Telangana is at 1,200 tests per million. Neighbouring Andhra Pradesh is testing 9,000 per million and Tamil Nadu, 8,600 per million. Even Uttar Pradesh is at around 1,900 tests per million.”
Of the 67,318 samples tested so far, the state has found 10,444 cases and seen 225 deaths. The last five days since testing was ramped up alone have seen 2,999 cases. Of them, 2,053 were asymptomatic while the remaining showed Severe Acute Respiratory Illness symptoms.
“The Central team will discuss how to increase Telangana’s testing. It has the physical capacity, both in the public and private sectors. They will also discuss how to optimally utilise the capacity in both central and state government facilities,” the senior official said.
In Maharashtra, sources said, the concern is “clinical management of cases”, with the case fatality ratio of 4.7% higher than the national average of 3.2%, and “new areas where cases are increasing”. Maharashtra has so far reported 6,739 deaths.
The official added that while things were “broadly stabilizing” in the Mumbai metropolitan area, places like Thane, Pune, Palghar and Solapur continued to report more cases.
Regarding Gujarat, the Central team’s focus would be the high fatality rate, at 6%. Its Covid toll stands at 1,736 deaths.
Gujarat, at 8.5%, and Maharashtra at 17% also have high positivity rates.
Both states, along with Delhi, continue to report a fatality rate higher than the national average.
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