HYDERABAD: Telangana may witness a surge in Covid-19 cases in the next three-four weeks with neighbouring districts in Maharashtra — Yavatmal, Amravati and the Vidarbha region — recording a sharp spike over the last one week. The situation has already sent alarm bells ringing across the Adilabad border, with the DMHO alerting the staff of seven PHCs and CHCs to keep a lookout for cases and trace their contacts.
The officials are worried as Yavatmal, which borders Adilabad in Telangana, reported 507 cases in a week and had a 11.4 per cent positivity rate. A few kilometres away, the district of Amravati reported 2,843 cases in seven days with a positivity rate of 56.7 per cent. These two surges are being seen as having a possible link with the South African strain which is far more infectious and spreads faster.
Keeping this in mind, the high movement of people between Telangana and Maharashtra is likely to bring the variant here, resulting in a surge in cases, experts have noted. Speaking to Express, the director of the Indian Institute of Public Health’s Hyderabad chapter, Dr GVS Murthy, said not just the northwestern-bordering districts of Telangana such as Adilabad, but also Hyderabad is susceptible to a surge due to frequent visits by people to religious places in Maharashtra such as Shirdi.
“The northwestern districts of TS may be affected due to the movement of people near the borders and those travelling to religious places. It cannot be said how long this transmission will take, but the next three-four weeks will be crucial. The government must be alert because if this is the South African strain, it will spread faster,” Dr Murthy said.
By March, the previously acquired herd immunity will also reduce as a majority of the infections in Telangana occurred before September, 2020 and the immunity of those infected would wear out, he said. This will give the virus higher chances to spread. A similar trend was seen in Europe and is now unfolding in Maharashtra.
Adilabad DMHO said the district continues to conduct 20-25 RT-PCR tests, with the remaining 1,000 tests using the less sensitive Rapid Antigen Test. “PHCs along the border have been alerted and the Collector appraised of the situation,” DHMO Dr Narendar Rathod said.
Meanwhile, experts have advised people to follow all Covid norms. “In our survey, we found that 75 per cent of the people in the three rural districts did not have antibodies, which is a cause of concern,” Dr Avula Laxmaiah, scientist and head of Public Health at the National Institute of Nutrition, said.