Fewer tests in Telangana may lead to more COVID cases

State’s R0 valve — the number of people a Covid+ve person can infect — rises to 1.55, the 8th worst in country; ntn’l avg at 1.32

Published: 05th May 2021 09:29 AM  |   Last Updated: 05th May 2021 09:29 AM   |  A+A-

COVID testing

For representational purposes (File Photo | PTI)

Express News Service

HYDERABAD:  Telangana’s sudden decision to test fewer people may soon backfire and lead to a rise in infection as the State is now seeing a steady rise in its ‘R0’ or R Naught value this week. R0 value, in lay terms, is the number of people a Covid-19 positive person can infect.  As per an analysis by epidemiologist Dr Giridhar R Babu from the Indian Institute for Public Health, Telangana’s R0 has increased to 1.55 in May 1 from 1.36 on April 30, and 1.47 on April 29. This is higher than national R0 value of 1.32. This implies that as on May 1, an infected person in Telangana is infecting at least 1.55 individuals.

Dr Babu, in a tweet, said that Telangana, along with Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, can be categorised into States with worrying epidemiologic indicators as it has an increasing R0 value but at the same time, has decreasing cases and tests per million. As per this assessment on May 1, Telangana had the eight-worst R0 value, with Assam having the poorest value at 2.07.

Close to 100 people wait for their Covid results at Ibrahimpatnam Government Hospital, in Hyderabad on Tuesday | VINAY MADAPU

The rising R0 value is likely due to poor testing and if this continues, the cases will rise. To give a more succinct comparison, Delhi’s R Naught value was at 2.27 on April 17th, after which the lockdown was announced and the entire health machinery in the State was brought to its heels. 

Telangana could be a model for itself in this regard as it went from an R0 value of 2.02 on April 10 to 1.7 on April 14 — all due to testing 80,000 tests to 1.30 lakh individuals a day. Now, testing has fallen to 60,000-70,000 a day.

If an infected person is more likely to infect more people, then naturally, the hospitalisations would increase. At present, irrespective of the data on the dashboard, most hospitals are stating a lack of bed availability.

The Human Rights Forum (HRF) has urged Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar to convert schools, function halls, sports stadiums into Covid-19 isolation centres to help out patients who live in cramped spaces. The HRF said that there are nearly 1,700 bastis in and around Hyderabad where people live in cramped spaces rendering them unable to follow Covid-19 protocol even if they test positive. The HRF said that some NGOs and voluntary groups are willing to furnish the poor with required beds, food and medicine if these isolated centres are set up. The rights body told the CS that several people from underprivileged sections had fallen prey to Covid-19.  

GHMC’s Disaster Response Force (DRF) personnel fix a disinfectant-spraying machines on a water tanker, near Sanjeevaiah Park on Tuesday | S Senbagapandiyan

“Given their sparse and cramped accommodation, many of these patients are finding it difficult to maintain isolation that is an imperative. In the twin cities and adjoining areas, there are nearly 1,700 (only 1,465 are notified) bastis. Residents in almost all of these slums live in one/two rooms holding not less than 10 persons. If someone is advised home quarantine, it is next to impossible to follow the required protocol,” said V Vasantha Lakshmi and S Jeevan Kumar, HRF TS & AP Coordination Committee members.

oyo, giveindia raise money to shelter the poor
Hospitality chain OYO and the GiveIndia NGO have come together to raise `10 crore to launch quarantine centres in Hyderabad, Bangalore, and Gurgaon/Delhi NCR for underprivileged people. These centres will be open to symptomatic as well as asymptomatic Covid-19 patients and provide food to the patients. Atul Satija, CEO, GiveIndia said, “Many in our country do have the means to find a shelter. We hope this campaign will raise awareness of underprivileged patients, their basic right to shelter for isolation and a  chance to recover.”


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