The opposition BJP and the Congress in Telangana have slammed the TRS government for allegedly conducting less number of COVID-19 tests, a charge dismissed by the ruling party.
BJP chief spokesperson in Telangana K Krishna Saagar Rao, in a statement on Tuesday evening, demanded the resignation of Telangana Health Minister Etela Rajender for "endangering the entire population of Telangana by intentionally conducting the lowest number of tests than any other state in India, with a proportionate population."
The Health Minister has not only underperformed during the massive health crisis but also wilfully misled the people of the state, opposition and media by claiming the state was testing as per ICMR guidelines, he alleged.
His department was also not reporting the test data regularly as mandated by ICMR in the daily bulletins since many weeks, he claimed.
"BJP stands vindicated on the allegations it has been making with substantive data since weeks, that TRS government has been manipulating COVID19 infection rate in the state of Telangana since the beginning and more so after the second week of April," the BJP leader said.
"One cannot understand the intention of the state government behind this brazen deviation in reference to public health standard protocols," he said.
The Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) also slammed the state government for poor testing. The TPCC president and Member of Parliament, N Uttam Kumar Reddy claimed that the state was testing only 250 samples per day. "TS (Telangana state) is conducting 652 tests per million while the national average is 1600 per million. Look at total tests done by Telangana and neighbouring states,‚ÄĚ he tweeted.
The MP pointed out that Telangana has done 22,842 tests whereas neighbouring states like Andhra Pradesh have done 2,29,118 tests, Karnataka 1,40, 024 tests, Maharashtra 2,61,783 tests, and Tamil Nadu has done 3,26,720 tests. ‚ÄúTelangana is testing only 250 samples per day! Is Telangana government policy - less tests mean less COVID cases !!, asked Uttam Kumar Reddy over social media.
‚ÄúTS is conducting 652 tests/M while natl. avg is 1600. Look at total tests done by TS & neighbouring states. TS - 22,842. AP - 2,29,118. Kar - 1,40, 024. MH - 2,61,783. TN - 3,26,720. TS is testing only 250 samples per day!‚ÄĚ Is T Govt policy- less tests mean less #COVID cases !!‚ÄĒ Uttam Kumar Reddy (@UttamTPCC) May 18, 2020
According to data released by the state government on May 17 as part of its daily bulletin, the cumulative number of samples tested as on May 16 was just 23,388.
Out of that, 947 men tested positive, while 566 women were found positive. It said 14,256 men tested negative, while 7,619 women tested negative.
According to official data (also furnished on May 17), as on May 14, Telangana carried out 22,842 tests, while 1,388 positive cases were found.
However, ruling TRS MLC, Palla Rajeshwara Reddy dismissed the criticism from the opposition parties, saying the state government is following the guidelines, issued from time to time, by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the Centre.
"The government of Telangana, the medical and health department, are following the ICMR guidelines and the Central Government guidelines.
Whenever they give guidelines, we are following," he told PTI on Tuesday when asked about the Congress' criticism.
The state government has been following the central guidelines vis-a-vis lockdown, testing and others, he said.
The TRS leader said different wings of the Central Government have been visiting continuously and monitoring the situation and expressed full satisfaction with regard to Telangana government's steps to contain COVID-19 spread.
Dismissing criticism that Telangana was not conducting enough tests compared to its neighbouring state (an apparent reference to Andhra Pradesh), Rajender said on April 28 that the ICMR guidelines state that tests should be done on those who are symptomatic and not on those who do not show symptoms.