Telangana High Court takes exception to slacking of State’s efforts in fight against COVID-19

Published : February 26, 2021 21:31 IST

At a COVID-19 testing centre in Hyderabad on February 23. Photo: MAHESH KUMAR A/AP

With the threat of a second wave of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), or COVID-19, pandemic looming large, Telangana on February 26 ranked sixth amongst all States with the highest change in the number of active cases. According to the latest numbers put out by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Telangana added 58 new active cases in the last 24 hours, with only Maharashtra (4,902), Punjab (272), Madhya Pradesh (165), Gujarat (122) and Haryana (99) adding more positive cases than it.

The alarming numbers come two days after Telangana’s Director of Public Health announced that COVID-19 bulletins would be released weekly rather than daily. The decision was frowned upon by a Telangana High Court bench headed by Chief Justice Hima Kohli which stated that it was “not in agreement with this abrupt decision” and that the State must start giving daily medical bulletins. The court was hearing a batch of public interest litigation petitions seeking steps to tackle the pandemic.

The court also sought a detailed report from the health authorities the steps that had been taken to prevent a fresh wave of COVID-19 cases from hitting the State, given the huge spike in the number of positive cases in neighbouring Maharashtra and to a lesser extent at the State’s southern extremities that border Karnataka. The bench asked the authorities to “upload all the details of the tests (conducted) into the State-run portal”.

Officials in the Department of Health, Medical and Family Welfare disclosed that vigilance and aggressive surveillance and tracing along the Maharashtra and Karnataka borders had been stepped up in the wake of the rise in the number of COVID-19 cases. However, the Telangana government has no plans of sealing its borders as of now.

Another redeeming fact is that Telangana continues to have one of the lowest overall active COVID-19 cases, the number standing at 1,910, with 129 recoveries over a 24-hour period. Cumulatively the State has had 2,94,911 COVID-19 cases, with 1,632 fatalities.

On the vaccination front, after initially being one of the frontrunner States as far as vaccinations go, Telangana has lagged. According to officials from the Department of Health, Medical and Family Welfare, nearly 3 lakh people— 1.60 lakh front-line workers and 1.40 lakh healthcare workers— missed taking the vaccine. The official disclosed that this group of 3 lakh people would be given a final chance to get vaccinated on a priority in the coming three days, prior to the Phase 3 rollout. While these groups can opt to take the vaccine later, they will however have to wait in the queue along with the general public.

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