IT and Industries Minister KT Rama Rao also cautioned against indiscriminate testing in the country, citing that the move could have a negative effect on people’s psyche. Instead, he suggested that infection hotspots be identified and extensive tests taken up in such areas.

During an interaction with the national media on Tuesday, the Minister spoke about the Telangana government’s stand in the fight against coronavirus following Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao’s appeal to the Prime Minister to extend the lockdown.

Rama Rao said with 130 crore population, the country’s health infrastructure was woefully inadequate for taking up random testing and it could lead to a lot of stress on health staff who were already working long hours. “More importantly, we cannot afford to create panic or fear among people at this juncture, which will only cripple the healthcare infrastructure, and the actual patients who are in need of tests might not have an opportunity to get the diagnosis done,” he said.

The Minister felt that private diagnostic centres should be allowed to take up Covid-19 tests only after the government resources are exhausted, failing which the former could exploit people’s fears and create more panic. He also sought a more systematic approach for preventing spreading of coronavirus, with focus on enhancing the efficiency of tests in infection hotspots. He felt that India must find own solution as it cannot merely ape South Korea and Germany with regard to testing.

Further elaborating on the Chief Minister’s strong pitch for extending lockdown, Rama Rao said the suggestion was made based on several reports which indicated a spike in Covid-19 cases in the country during the first week of June unless it is contained from spreading now. 

“Despite strong economy, the US, European nations and other developed countries are struggling to deal with this epidemic. Lockdown and containment are the best solutions for India to flatten the curve. We can potentially revive the economy one day but cannot bring back lives lost,” he pointed out.

The IT and Industries Minister stated that Telangana was a role model for other States in terms of extending support to the poor and the needy as well as migrant workers during the lockdown. Besides supplying rice and cash as well as arranging food and shelter to them, the government was also giving incentives to the employees who are working on the frontlines in the fight against coronavirus. “We have also appealed to all private organisations to pay salaries to their employees during the lockdown. Guidelines were also issued to property owners not to force tenants to pay rents,” he added.

Rama Rao said the State was working with a three-phased strategy and created a 15,000-bed isolation facility in the first phase, besides procuring necessary equipment, including Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) kits, medicines, masks and other infrastructure to keep the medical staff safe. In phase-II, the government would involve private medical colleges and hospitals with whom it had already held a series of meetings for necessary preparations. “We will be ramping up procurement of drugs and other requirements,” he said.

The State government was also working on a post-coronavirus strategy to support the industries for the revival of the economy and had been constantly discussing the strategies with the industry as well as the Central government in this regard.

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