Much has been written about the Kerala model in tackling the coronavirus, and it surely is praiseworthy. While comparisons may be unfair considering the challenges each state has had to grapple with during these extraordinary times, equally effective has been the least-talked-about Andhra model. Perhaps, it is overlooked due to the initial response of the government after the first positive case was reported. At the time, CM Jagan Mohan Reddy was keen on pressing ahead with the scheduled local elections and drew flak for stating the bitter truth: learn to live with Covid-19 until a vaccine is found.
Since then, the number of cases has increased to 2,557. Of them, 53 have died and 1,664 successfully treated. If we examine the data, the doubling rate has improved from 11.7 days on April 30 to 24.4 days on May 14 when the all-India rate is 13.6 days. Seen in the context of ramped-up testing, it is a commendable achievement. AP moved fast, importing testing kits from South Korea. It has tested 2,67,609 samples and tests over 9,000 samples every 24 hours or in other words, 5,011 tests per million. The positivity rate is among the lowest at 0.96% and recovery rate among the highest at 65.08%.
At times of crisis, leadership matters. Credit must be given to Jagan, who has no prior administrative experience, for not being economical with the truth and being firm but gentle. The wide network of volunteers he has put in place, along with the police and medical staff, helped survey each and every household, thrice, to identify and isolate any person with Covid-19 symptoms. Contact tracing has become relatively easier.
The crucial factor is the CM’s move to decentralise administration and entrust officers with specific tasks without micromanaging everything from his chambers. His insistence on adopting a humanitarian approach has also allayed public fears to an extent. Nonetheless, with the lockdown set to end sooner or later, he will have to not only contain the virus but also revive the economy. How he does it will set the tone for his second year in office beginning May 31 and the future of the state.