In a massive development to boost Telangana's low Coronavirus (COVID-19) testing rate, the Telangana High Court, on Wednesday, directed the Telangana government to allow authorised private labs to conduct Covid-19 tests and private hospitals to commence treatment, as per reports. A high court bench comprising of Justices M S Ramachandra Rao and K Lakshman has slammed the KCR government for insisting that patients test only in government labs and seek treatment in government hospitals only. Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao has time and again ruled out involving private labs and hospitals to deal with Covid-19 cases, alleging people will be charged exorbitantly.
“This is highly unconstitutional. People have every right to get tested and treated at private labs and hospitals respectively at their own cost. The government cannot bring pressure on anyone to go only to the state-run hospitals,” the bench stated in response to a PIL filed by a Hyderabad resident. The court has stated that only private labs and hospitals authorised by ICMR will be allowed to carry out tests and treat patients respectively.
On May 17, the Centre had pulled up Telangana for testing the lowest, while having a higher positivity rate — the ratio of positive diagnosis to the number of tests conducted — than the national average. In a letter written by Union health secretary Preeti Sudan, the Centre had pointed out that Telangana accounted to only 1.5% or 20,754 tests of the total 14 lakh tests conducted at by the nation. While Telangana's tests per day averaged at only 200, its neighbour - Andhra Pradesh conducted 9000 tests on an average, wrote Sudan.
"While the all-India testing average was 1,025 per million population, the figure for Telangana was only 546. At an all-India level, the positivity rate is about 4.12 per cent whereas, in Telangana, it is 5.26 per cent, which shows that if we carry out RT-PCR testing aggressively, we will be able to identify cases and be able to have better containment by breaking the chain,” stated the Centre. The state has only five government labs - four in Hyderabad and one in Secunderabad, as per the state government's website.
When the Markaz issue came into light, Telangana reported six deaths - all who had attended the Markaz event. After initially failing to confirm the number of attendees, Telangana underwent contact tracing claiming '85% of Covid-19 cases reported in the State are linked to Nizamuddin Markaz'. Currently, Telangana has 1761 positive cases, 1043 recoveries and 48 deaths.