Despite heavy surge in Covid cases in Telangana, the state government is under wrapping the actual numbers received from district health officials fearing of positivity rate forces government to impose public restrictions.
Telangana, it appears, has found a way to keep the rampaging third wave of Covid-19 in the state – driven by the highly infectious and fast-spreading Omicron variant of Coronavirus – under control. And it is doing so by under-reporting new Covid infections that are being discovered each day, in each of the state’s 33 districts if official daily Covid cases data, collected from districts health officials.
Covid cases are being underreported – sometimes by half and on some days even by six times the actual number of cases being submitted from health officials in the districts – in the Covid-19 bulletin issued by the state health department every evening.
For instance, yesterday, as many as 685 new Covid cases were found in Khammam district. The official state-level bulletin claimed that there were only 104 cases for the day in that district. Similarly, in Karimnagar, the data showed 302 cases for Tuesday, while in the evening bulletin, the health department put the figure at just 74.
There were also some contradictions in bulletin data and actual district numbers in a few instances where the bulletin data managers appear to have attempted some course correction by reporting more than actual cases on a few days.
One of the imperatives for the health department to keep the Covid count low is the worry that if the positivity rate crosses 10, then the state will have no option but to impose strict restrictions, including containment zones, shutdowns and the like, actions that the state government has been extremely reluctant to do. The fewer the official cases, the lower the positivity rate, and the lower the positivity rate, life can appear to go on as normal with the people believing that they are not under a serious threat of the disease.
The director of public health & family welfare Dr G Srinivasa Rao, who is currently admitted to a hospital with Covid, earlier this month and in December last had ruled out any restrictions saying shutdowns and lockdowns would impact the economy, and the earnings of the people, with an assurance that the Omicron variant will only cause mild disease among the vaccinated, and that was not something to get worked up about.
As on today, going by the government’s official bulletin, the state’s positivity rate stood at 3.58, well below the first threshold of five at which the government would have to start taking serious steps to contain the spread of the disease.
Health officials in most districts were reluctant to reveal the actual daily case count saying they were under strict instructions from the department not to reveal the true extent of the disease spread. In some instances, only spotty information was made available, as in the case of Mancherial district where the actual case load for only January 17 stood at 451, compared to the 74 reported for the day in the daily statewide Covid bulletin. #KhabarLive #hydnews