- Andhra Pradesh is conducting over 35,000 COVID tests per million population
- Andhra Pradesh also has a recovery of 47.71% vs national average of 64.51%
- Andhra Pradesh is focussing on keeping mortality and positivity rate low
New Delhi: Andhra Pradesh is climbing the ladder of Coronavirus cases and setting a new benchmark every day. On July 30, the state reported the biggest single-day spike of 10,093 fresh COVID-19 cases. The 24-hour spike was the highest reported by any other state in the country; it even breached Maharashtra. From around 24,000 total COVID-19 cases on July 10 to now over 1.2 lakh cases, the Andhra Pradesh has witnessed a spike of over 400 per cent in the last 20 days. Currently, the state is the fourth worst-hit in the country, in terms of total COVID-19 numbers. The sudden rise in the COVID-19 cases has created a worrisome situation for the state. NDTV spoke to K.S. Jawahar Reddy, Andhra Pradesh’s special chief secretary, to understand the current situation and the plan of action.
Andhra Pradesh is conducting over 35,000 tests per million population. This is more than the number of tests being done by Maharashtra (16,184) and Tamil Nadu (32,944), the top two worst-hit states. More testing is linked to catching more cases. But is this the reason behind the increase in cases? Explaining the same, Mr Reddy said,
The change of pandemic number won’t matter much because currently, we are working towards two objectives. One is to keep the positivity rate less than 10 per cent and mortality rate around 1 per cent. To keep the mortality low we should catch as many positive cases as possible. With the advent of rapid antigen test kits, we are able to ramp up testing because earlier we had RT-PCR and TrueNAT testing capacity of around 45,000 tests. We have added about 25,000-30,000 tests per day that’s why we are able to detect more number of cases. Since we are only worried about positivity; on a daily basis we are looking at that. Cumulative positivity is 6.3 per cent compared to the national average of 8.5. Mortality is currently around 1.04 per cent.
Keeping low mortality and positivity rate is a good move but Andhra Pradesh also has a low recovery rate of 47.71 per cent when compared to the national average of 64.51 per cent. Explaining the same, Mr Reddy said,
Recovery is the discharges. A large number of cases are being reported recently so some of them have not completed the mandatory 10 days period in case of the mild and moderate case and 14 days in severe cases. We are definitely focusing on discharges but we are really not worried about that as it may be an administrative issue. We have to be discharging people who complete the mandatory time period and test negative.
Mr Reddy said that earlier the expert committee had predicted a peak in June and later it was stated that Andhra Pradesh will see a rise in COVID-19 cases in August. However, he believes that the state is undergoing a Coronavirus peak right now and it’s becoming challenging because almost all the districts are seeing a peak simultaneously. He said,
We thought few districts will go into the peak little early compared to other districts. But I think, more or less all districts are in peak. Districts like East Godavari, West Godavari, Vizag, Kurnool, and Anantpur are the ones reporting higher numbers.
Further talking about whether an increase in testing has helped in controlling the positivity rate from going up, Mr Reddy gave an example of Krishna district with headquarters in Vijayawada. He said,
We tested aggressively in the latter half of June and the first half of July. Now, the positivity rate and the number of fresh COVID-19 cases being reported from Krishna district are very less. Positivity on July 29 was 6 per cent. The testing strategy seems to have worked in Krishna and that’s why we have ramped up testing. East Godavari district which is also the most populous district is reporting more than 1,000 cases every day and is testing anywhere between 8,000 to 9,000 samples, much higher than many of the states.
When asked if the state could be in the community transmission stage of coronavirus which means the source of infection cannot be traced and not known, Mr Reddy said,
We do focus on contact tracing and also focusing on cluster containment and restrictions in the clusters. At this stage, keeping track of the source of every infection or every positive case is really difficult. To the extent possible we are able to do that.
With the rise in cases, comes the problem of manpower and infrastructure. A similar issue was seen in Delhi where people complained of delay in admission in hospitals and allocation of beds. In Andhra Pradesh, Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy has said a bed should be provided within 30 minutes to any patient who asks for it at any hospital, otherwise, the collector and joint collector will be held accountable. Talking about how practical is this, Mr Reddy said,
What the Chief Minister was referring to was, once a case comes to the hospital, the patient should get a bed within 30 minutes. There should not be a delay in allotting beds and admission. We are trying to reduce the time. In fact, there are two other parameters we are looking at; firstly, from the onset of symptoms to detection, we are trying to keep the time as low as possible that is less than 24 hours. Secondly, from detection to death will be more than six days.
Further talking about the state’s strategy and clinical management protocol, Mr Reddy informed about the three-fold approach which includes treating the patients at hospitals, COVID care centres and under home isolation. Depending on the case, a decision is taken. Elaborating on the same, Mr Reddy said,
Each district has a help desk for managing the home isolated cases through daily consultation and other cases which are in COVID care centres.
Mr Reddy also informed that the state has procured enough quantity of essential drugs Remdesivir and has got good numbers of ventilators. He said,
We are focusing more on oxygen beds. Out of almost 35,000 beds in the hospitals, about 20,000 have oxygen supply. For medicines also we have given a free hand.
Before signing off, Mr Reddy touched on the state’s plan to re-impose lockdown in the light of an increase in cases and said,
Lockdown continues in containment clusters so wherever the administration feels that there are a large number of cases, restrictions are imposed. There is no state or city wise lockdown. But definitely, collectors are empowered to enforce restrictions in local areas as per the situation.
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