The state government says they are hard at work testing people to ensure the situation does not get out of hand
The Coronavirus is creeping slowly into the community in Andhra Pradesh. It is officially confirmed that the virus which is responsible for the COVID-19 has entered the initial stages of the crucial Stage 3.
According to the KS Jawahar Reddy, special chief secretary (Medical, Health, and Family welfare) the state, which until this morning had 314 positive cases, is witnessing the initial stages of community transmission of Coronavirus or Stage 3.
"Kurnool has a large number of COVID-19 cases; most are linked to a meeting in Delhi. But what we are worried about is one or two cases in other places where infectees have no history of travel or contact with confirmed cases," said Reddy.
Highlighting this, Reddy said community surveillance and random testing in hospitals is important.
But the state is yet to acquire the capability to conduct the tests at the mass scale required to isolate contracted persons in the third stage of the virus spreading.
According to Reddy, the state is aiming to achieve a testing ratio of 300 per million people per day and he was hopeful of achieving this in the next 10 days.
The state is importing three lakh Rapid Test Kits and testing labs have been increased to seven from one, he added.
“Stage Three is a critical point in the spread of coronavirus and Andhra entered the stage. But there is no need for panic,” assured Dr Raghava Gundavarapu, a noted general physician from Ongole, a hotspot of Coronavirus positive cases in the state.
Talking to The Lede he said, for some inexplicable reason, maybe because of people’s general immunity or weather conditions, the majority of the cases in the state had not deteriorated into serious or fatal respiratory complications.
“Now the only way we can prevent the state from slipping into mid-stage-three is to conduct tests on mass-scale to isolate the suspected cases from the community. You cannot rest assured unless and until you conduct 15,000 to 20,000 tests per day. As we are at a critical point, the state has to acquire this capability on a war footing,” Dr Raghava said.
He also advises against the general ward-like quarantining for the suspected cases.
Quarantining should be done as per the WHO protocol which prescribes a separate room for each case.
“Housing too many individuals in a single hall or room during quarantine would be dangerous. Because members with false-positive results are prone to get contracted from the real positive cases,” he said.
Talking about the testing facilities in the state, he said, lack of universal testing facilities and the prohibitive cost of the testing at private hospitals is a source of worry in Andhra Pradesh. In Hyderabad, hospitals like Apollo are available for people, at least for those who could afford it.
“There are no private labs in Andhra Pradesh, even though the ICMR has fixed the tariff at Rs 4500 per test. So, the people who volunteer to get themselves tested for Coronavirus, have no option but to follow the government protocol. If one were to volunteer for testing with government hospitals, they would first quarantine him before testing. The people are scared of this type pf quarantining. Apart from the screening being done by government health workers to detect the presumptive cases, there should be a window for the people who volunteer for testing,” he opined.