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Wary of Covid case load, Centre to confer with 8 states today

The meeting, scheduled for Friday, will feature a detailed discussion between a team of experts from the Centre as well as senior Health Ministry officials and officers from Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Telangana, Odisha, West Bengal, Assam, Karnataka, and Uttar Pradesh.

Written by Kaunain Sheriff M | New Delhi | Updated: July 24, 2020 10:43:12 am
At a testing centre in south Kolkata on Thursday. (Express photo by Partha Paul)

A day after the country reported a record 46,000 coronavirus cases in a single day, it was learnt on Thursday that the Centre will hold a video conference with eight states, which it views as a “cause of concern”, to check the spread of the virus.

The meeting, scheduled for Friday, will feature a detailed discussion between a team of experts from the Centre as well as senior Health Ministry officials and officers from Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Telangana, Odisha, West Bengal, Assam, Karnataka, and Uttar Pradesh, The Indian Express has learnt.

“These states are a cause of concern for different reasons,” a top government functionary, who is part of the team monitoring the pandemic, said.

On Thursday, Andhra Pradesh reported a single-day record high of 7,998 cases. The source said that the state is a cause of concern on two fronts: “First, it is testing eight or nine times more than its neighbour Telangana, but even then its positivity continues to be high. Second, the state continues to report a higher absolute number of deaths week after week.”

These eight states are reporting 60-plus deaths on a daily basis, the source said.

On Thursday, Andhra Pradesh reported testing a record 58,052 samples in a single day — it reported positivity of 13.77 per cent. The high positivity is in contrast with the Centre’s strategy of ramping up testing to keep the positivity rate below the 5-per cent mark.

Telangana on Wednesday reported testing only 15,882 samples, and continues to witness a cumulative sample positivity rate as high as 16 per cent. “Telangana has the resources but is still not testing enough,” the source said.

The Centre, it is learnt, will take up another important issue in Friday’s meeting. “Telangana was following a policy of sending (most) patients to Hyderabad. The Centre discouraged this. The state has to focus on augmenting facilities in district-specific institutions,” the source said.

In Karnataka, with 49,931 active cases and reporting an average 80 deaths each day this week, mortality is a cause of concern, the government official said.

While Bengaluru continues to drive the state’s caseload, a source said the meeting will take up concerns related to emergence of “new hotspots” in the state. Over the last week, Dharwad (33.4%), Dakshina Kannada (32%), Udupi (25.8%) and Ballari (25.2%) districts have reported high positivity, the source pointed out.

For Bihar, West Bengal, Odisha, West Bengal, Assam and Uttar Pradesh, concerns continue to remain on “low testing and surge in cases”, the source said.

With testing below 140 tests per day per million, UP and West Bengal reported more than 2,000 cases on Thursday. Odisha and Bihar reported more than 1,000 cases on the day.

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