Telangana Chief Minister Chandrashekhar Rao orders Rs.1,000 fine on those not wearing mask, seeks more COVID-19 vaccine supplies from Centre

Published : April 09, 2021 22:39 IST

Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao, Photo: THE HINDU ARCHIVES

Telangana is bracing itself for a second wave of COVID-19 infection that could be worse than the first one. The first wave began at the end of last June and peaked in August end-September beginning, when the number of daily cases crossed 3,000. At present the number has breached the 2,000 mark and shows signs of increasing.

The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) government led by K. Chandrashekhar Rao has decided to increase testing and tracing, besides isolating and treating those who test positive. The Chief Minister said people not wearing masks would be fined Rs.1,000 and directed the Director General of Police (DGP) to instruct the police to enforce the mask mandate strictly. On April 8, after participating in the video conference of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Chief Ministers, Chandrashekhar Rao held a review meeting with Health Minister Etala Rajender and officials of the health department and discussed ways to curtail the spread of COVID-19. Chandrashekhar Rao is reported to have brought to the notice of Modi that Telangana was capable of vaccinating 10 lakh people a day, but only 60,000 to 70,000 were being vaccinated because of limited stocks of the vaccine. He requested the Prime Minister to ensure adequate supplies of vaccine to the State

The Chief Minister directed health officials to ensure a significant increase in testing and completion of vaccination process for all frontline workers within a week. The Chief Minister announced that his government would provide Rs.2,000 as financial assistance and 25 kg of rice a month to teachers and staff of recognised private schools until educational institutions were reopened. Schools in Telangana have been shut since March 23.

The Chief Minister’s has asked officials to give special focus on densely populated districts such as Hyderabad, Ranga Reddy, Nizamabad and Medchal. While Nizamabad, Nirmal and Asifabad districts have surpassed their daily peak of 2020, with figures indicating that they are among the worst-hit districts in the second wave, Rangareddy and Medchal are nearing their 2020 peaks.

Figures shared by health department officials indicate that while Nizamabad recorded 153 cases on August 21 as its highest daily surge of cases last year, it has already breached that number in the second wave, recording 179 cases on April 6. Similarly, Nirmal district’s highest number of daily cases was on September 3, at 44. This year the figure has more than doubled — 104 cases recorded on April 6. Asifabad’s highest daily record last year was 30. This year the district recorded a daily high of 41 cases on April 7.

Stung by the sharp criticism from the Telangana High Court, which found serious fault with the poor number of reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests, the Chief Minister has directed officials to increase the number of RT-PCR test centres across the State. Telangana is poised to set up RT-PCR test centres at Gadwal, Wanaparthy, Khammam, Kothagudem, Mahbubabad, Nirmal, Mancherial, Kamareddy, Sangareddy, Medak, Jagtial, Peddapalli, Ramagundam, Bhongir, Jangoan and Vikarabad districts. The Telangana High Court has directed the State to ensure that 70 per cent of all COVID-19 tests should be the RT-PCR rather than the less accurate rapid antigen test, as per guidelines issued by the Union government.