Telangana CM K. Chandrashekhar Rao with Governor Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan ahead of the Assembly session, at Rajbhavan in Hyderabad on 29 August 2020 | ANI
Telangana CM K. Chandrashekhar Rao with Governor Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan ahead of the Assembly session, at Rajbhavan in Hyderabad on 29 August 2020 | ANI
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Hyderabad: Telangana Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan Wednesday said the KCR government’s response to the Covid pandemic was “picking up now” after an initial lag, but added that focus was needed on improving the healthcare infrastructure and ensuring government hospitals are well-equipped.

A trained doctor herself, Soundararajan said, “I am educated from a government medical college and I know how difficult it is to serve in government hospitals, especially when there is no basic infrastructure. Government hospitals are very important … I cannot let a person die because there is no basic medical care,” in a video chat with media.

Soundararajan has in the past been critical of the KCR government’s handling of the pandemic, especially for its low testing. She had repeatedly stressed on how the state needed to urgently ramp up testing, and made a slew of suggestions to the government. They included decentralising hospitals and regulating private hospitals to ensure there was no bed scarcity for patients.

In May, ThePrint reported that the Centre had pulled up the state government for its low testing, and said, “We need to chase the virus rather than the virus chase us.” At the time, Telangana accounted for just 1.5 per cent, or 20,754, of the more than 14 lakh RT-PCR (real-time polymerase chain reaction) tests carried out across India, according to the health ministry.

In the weeks that followed, the high court also slammed the state for the low testing numbers and the government courted controversy over its testing data. By early July, the KCR government had two sets of Covid case numbers, separated by a difference of nearly 3,000, ThePrint reported.

Currently, Telangana has a caseload of 1,47,642 infections of the 43,70,128 cases recorded in India so far. Of these, 31,654 are active in the state while 916 died, according to the Union health ministry’s data.

A state bulletin said 18.90 lakh samples had been tested so far, while 50,922 tests per million population had been conducted.

Further, the state’s case fatality rate was 0.62 per cent, far below the national average of 1.69 per cent. The state bulletin also said the recovery rate was 77.9 per cent, slightly higher than the national average of 77.76 per cent.

Also read: Behind Telangana’s rising Covid numbers, low testing and violations of ICMR, HC orders

Delay in Covid measures hurt Telangana’s health

Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, more popularly known as KCR, has been facing flak though the state has improved its handling of the pandemic. In August, buoyed by the governor’s criticism, the opposition said the state’s image was taking a beating and even called for the CM’s resignation.

Presently, junior doctors at the 150-year-old Osmania government hospital are on strike, demanding better facilities. They claim their repeated complaints about the condition of operation theatres, wards, fully-equipped acute surgical care and post-operative wards have not been taken seriously.

Back in June, about 250 doctors from Gandhi Medical College & Hospital, which was converted into an exclusive Covid facility, walked out of the hospital demanding better facilities. They claimed there was an extreme shortage of basic equipment such as oxygen support.

Talking about these, the governor said that there were drawbacks in how the crisis was handled in the initial days.

“Had there not been a delay, the situation would have been better today. I felt there should have been early implementation (of the suggestions she made),” Soundararajan said.

However, now, things have improved, she said.

“The response has been positive from the Chief Minister. The state has also increased its efforts to control the pandemic,” she told ThePrint. CM Rao had met the governor in July as well as last month.

The Governor also appealed to Rao to include the state in Centre’s flagship Ayushman Bharat Yojna.

For his part, KCR has said all states should increase their health budget. Speaking at the state assembly Wednesday, he said, “I told the PM that the health infrastructure in our country is very poor and all states need to improve it. It is not about one party and what they did, (and) which political party handled it well. All of them need to work on it.”

Also read: Two confirmed Covid-19 reinfections in Telangana increase concerns about immunity


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