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As criticism mounts on testing numbers, Telangana says it’s following ICMR norms

KV Kurmanath Hyderabad | Updated on April 29, 2020 Published on April 29, 2020

A journalist gave a blow-by-blow account of her Covid-19 like symptoms last week and how she was turned away by a designated testing centre in the city after she told them that she had no travel history or no contact with a Covid patient. Her post has fuelled the on-going discussion on the low number of testing that is happening in Telangana. (She was called for a test later and found to be negative.)

Some political party leaders and people on social media felt that the State should have tested more and even alleged that the low number of cases lately is because of the lower number of tests.

On Monday and Tuesday, the State reported just two and six Covid-19 positive cases, respectively, as it conducted tests on under 500 people a day, showing a steep drop in the number of cases registered a week before.

The cumulative cases in the State are put at 1,009. With 374 patients getting discharged after treatment and 25 persons succumbing to the infection, the State has 610 active positive cases as on April 28.

Advisories circulated

Telangana, however, dismisses the arguments, saying it is strictly following the guidelines issued by the the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

A visibly upset Telangana Health Minister Eatala Rajender said that all the people that come under ICMR’s testing criteria are getting tested.

“The ICMR recommended that only patients with Covid-19 symptoms should be tested. It indicated that asymptomatic secondary contacts need not be tested. We are not lying on the number of cases,” a top Government official said.

The Government circulated the ICMR’s two advisories in a span of three weeks on whom to test.

Those opposing the State’s stand on testing cite the example of Andhra Pradesh, which is doing rapid tests on about 5,000 people every day. “They are testing more and reporting higher number of cases in higher double-digits. We are testing less and reporting less number of cases here,” one person said.

“We are against rapid tests. Even the Centre government has felt so. I hope that the State will be free of Covid-19 by May 8, when the local lockdown ends,” he said.

Citing a April 27 order from ICMR, he said the institute asked the States to stop using rapid testing kits from two Chinese manufacturers after finding them not up to the mark.

Eatala Rajender contended that the bulk of the cases had a link to the Delhi congregation. “We traced all of them and they are under treatment. A good number of them are getting discharged,” he said.

He also argued that the death rate is very low. “More than half of the dead had co-morbidities such as cardiac and blood pressure conditions,” he said.

Published on April 29, 2020
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