COVID-19 cases continue to spiral in Andhra Pradesh

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Getting a COVID test done at the ENT Hospital in Visakhapatnam on April 9. Photo: K.R. DEEPAK

There appears to be no respite from the spiralling number of COVID-19 positive cases in Andhra Pradesh. On April 8, the State reported 2,558 new infections, an increase of over 200 infections as compared with the previous day’s figures. The State stares at the rising number of new infections even as it faces a shortage of COVID-19 vaccine.

In the 24-hour period ending 4 p.m. on April 8, the State tested 31,268 samples, of which 2,558 returned positive. It was the highest number of cases on a single day since the second wave struck the State. It took the State’s overall cumulative caseload since the pandemic broke to a total of 915,832 cases.

The numbers are frightening: Andhra Pradesh, which had just 725 active COVID-19 positive cases on March 1, saw the number double in 15 days. And by April 1, the number went past the 8,000 mark. Of the State’s 13 districts, nine have witnessed a fierce rise in the number of COVID-19 positive cases. Chittoor (2,535 cases), Guntur (2,231), Visakhapatnam (2,024), Krishna (1,879), SPS Nellore (1,349) were the districts with the highest active cases. Chittoor, with 465 new infections, topped the list, followed by Guntur (399), Visakhapatnam (290) and SPS Nellore (204). Interestingly, four districts reported less than 100 cases, with the lowest number reported in West Godavari (37).

The number of daily new cases, which is presently hovering around the 2,500 mark, has not only pushed the COVID-19 caseload in Andhra Pradesh close to 15,000, but has also made the Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy government to swing into action. The Chief Minister has directed health officials in the State to prepare an action plan to administer 6 lakh vaccines a day during the four days of the “Tika Utsav” (vaccine festival) from April 11 to 14. As per the plan, the State will vaccinate 4 lakh people in rural areas and 2 lakh people in urban areas every day of the festival.

Andhra Pradesh, which has been vaccinating around 1.3 lakh people every day with health officials saying that they could double the number, has also been hit by a shortage of vaccine doses. On April 8, with the consignment promised from the Centre failing to materialise, the State was forced to procure doses from Chennai.

Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy held a review meeting with Health Department officials after attending the video conference with Prime Minister Modi on April 8. Also present at the meeting were Home Minister Mekathoti Sucharita, Chief Secretary Adityanath Das, DGP Gautam Sawang, Medical Health Special Chief Secretary Anil Kumar Singhal, Medical and Health Chief Secretary (COVID-19 Management and Vaccination) Muddada Ravichandra and Health, Medical and Family Welfare Commissioner Katamaneni Bhaskar.

Jagan Mohan Reddy emphasised at the meeting that vaccination was the only way to prevent COVID-19 and that the vaccination drive needed more focus. It is estimated that there are around 1 crore people above 45 years of age who are yet to be vaccinated. He also asked officials to continue to focus on testing, tracing and treatment. He directed officials to take strict action against all those not wearing masks.