Hyderabad: When the Inter-Ministerial Central Team (IMCT) of officials visited Telangana earlier this week, the doctors and public health specialists they met had a startling point to make: The state government is under-testing and under-reporting Covid-19 cases. And it is not reporting Covid-19 deaths.
Simply put, the figures you see in the official bulletins are not the real picture at all.
Under the banner of Doctors for Seva, these doctors and publish health specialists told the IMCT that they are deeply concerned that Covid-19 patients are in effect mingling in the community.
If they are not identified and isolated soon, there could be an exponential increase in the number of cases and this would have wider implications for controlling the pandemic at the state, national, and international levels, they stated.
Doctors for Seva asked the IMCT to look into the gaps and rectify them. The doctors insisted they want to be part of the team fighting Covid-19 but they want the state government to be clear and transparent.
The government statistics raise a lot of concerns, especially when compared to other states. To add to this, there was an order by the Telangana health department on April 20 that samples must not be taken from the bodies of Covid-19 suspected deaths.
Doctors for Seva said in a joint statement: “This is a risky strategy. It is a pandemic. It demands that government follow international guidelines which have been chalked out and (which) brought the situation in control in Europe, China and the USA. We have to follow protocols to safeguard our people. The decision of TS to not test is very disturbing and will backfire very badly.”
Doctors for Seva cited the example of Suryapet where the second-highest number of cases in the state — 83 — was reported. But then, no testing has been carried out there since April 23. It has been more than a week now and doctors are worried that the numbers may have exploded. Without testing, there is no knowing how widespread Covid-19 is.
At the ground level, people suffering from bilateral pneumonia, chest scans showing abnormal conditions and patients in intensive care units of private hospitals are not being tested for Covid-19. The doctors say this is against the guidelines of the Indian Council of Medical Research.
“Our concern is (that the) actual load is much higher and once lockdown is relaxed the number of missed patients could surge in the state,” the Doctors for Seva statement said.
The joint statement was signed by Dr Santhosh Kraleti, public health specialist, Dr Vijayanand J., consultant paediatrician, Dr G. Veda Prakash, orthopaedic surgeon, Dr M. Srikanth, consultant paediatrician, Dr M. Rajender Reddy, consultant urologist, and Dr Karuna, consultant paediatrician....