For close to two months till date, Andhra Pradesh has been the number one state in the country when it comes to conducting tests per million population for Covid-19. But its was not a walk in the park for the Jagan Mohan Reddy -ed government to ramp up testing when the state was challenged by infrastructural woes. While Kerala has been garnering most of the appreciation recently, Andhra Pradesh too has created a niche for itself when it comes to effective handling of the pandemic.
From having zero testing labs in March to having the most number of government-run labs as on date (52), the state has come a long way. The state also boasts of the lowest Coronavirus positivity rate in the country which stands at 1.38%. The positivity rate of India stands at 6.20% (all figures as on June 24).
Dr. Vyakarnam Nageshwar, noted pulmonologist and medical journalist, says, "When you see New Zealand, they had three pillars-testing, treating and tracing- to fight the battle against coronavirus. Probably Andhra Pradesh is taking lessons from them. When other states like Telangana are looking at a COVID explosion, it is not the case with Andhra Pradesh. They are very consistent in the three pillars. As a doctor, I am happy that there is consistency."
It is important to note that AP has conducted 14,049 tests per million (population of 53.4 million), well ahead of the second state with more tests per million-Tamil Nadu. TN has conducted 12,264 tests per million for a population of 77 million. Apart from testing on a war footing and ramping up medial infrastructure in the state, there are several key aspects that has worked for the state government in the war against Covid-19.
In a sheer brace of luck, what turned out to be a goldmine for chief minister Jagan Mohan Reddy is the 4.5 lakh volunteer staff which he had appointed before the corona flare-up struck India. These volunteers were appointed in over 11,000 villages across the state to extend the benefits of various schemes of the state government to the people. To aid in activities to negate the pandemic, the volunteer framework completed 4 periods of door-to-door overviews which ended up being instrumental in controlling the virus spread. 50 houses were allotted to each volunteer.
In the first phase, more than 10,000 foreign returnees, far beyond the Government of India records, were traced by the volunteers. During the subsequent stage, residents with virus manifestations, independent of movement history, were traced from across the state. The third and the fourth periods of the study focussed on following the vulnerable class, i.e those with co-morbidities, senior residents and so on. More than 32,000 people were tested to ensure their well-being.
Once the remote returnees with influenza-like manifestations were followed by means of the door-to-door overviews, a medical worker was given the responsibility to routinely monitor the health of each one of these people. Sometimes, the health worker was made responsible for screening people who showed manifestations to guarantee that they don't break the home isolation standards.
Andhra Pradesh was the first to utilise mobile phone tower signals to check those under home quarantine. A Covid-19 positive leaving a base area of 100 metres would raise an alert at the local level of governance and subsequently at the state level. Apart from this, a comparable device to track all the spots that a patient visited 14 days before he tested positive was used to improve the contact following framework. Each one of the 4.5 lakh volunteers utilised a mobile application to constantly update the well-being specialists as and when a resident with virus manifestations/travel history was distinguished.
This was a major test to Andhra Pradesh as initially, the state had to rely upon labs in Pune and Hyderabad to get Covid-19 tests done. From having zero ability to test over 15,000 people per day to now having 52 government labs positioned across the state, the foundation has come a long way. The state currently has 4 critical care hospitals, one Covid-19 hospital in each district and 5 additional medical facilities in every one of the regions (government + private) obliging Covid cases. It's noteworthy to mention that the state government declared that any individual who completed the obligatory isolation period will be given a whole of Rs 2,000 to make up for money misfortune during this period.
Andhra Pradesh was the principal state to declare that the exchequer will bare the costs of the movement charges of migrant workers, both those leaving AP to their particular home states and those living in the state. This was done when other states were gathering ticket levies. Apart from this, CM Jagan Mohan Reddy ordered food-water provision every 50 kms on highways for migrants walking back home. Vagrant workers who were tracked on their journey back home were additionally rescued, taken care of and then sent back after vehicles were arranged for them.
Praising the efforts of Andhra Pradesh in its battle against Covid-19, union health minister Dr Harshavardhan had called up chief minister Jagan last month and praised him for the stand taken by the state on various corona-related issues. "Jagan’s progressive and pragmatic outlook towards the future of the state and the country at large is laudable. The chief minister touched upon pertinent aspects that needs to be addressed, like the stigma surrounding Covid-19," he said. The health minister was reacting to Jagan's pitch where he suggested, "Creating self-awareness among people should be the priority above imposition of restrictions and clamping down, which is adding to the stigma surrounding Covid-19."
Now in order to ramp up testing, CM Jagan on June 22 ordered that every single household in the state will be screened for the virus within a period of 90 days.Republic world
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