The Telangana High Court on Tuesday directed the State Election Commission to submit a report on the steps being taken to check the spread of COVID-19 during the April 30 elections to seven urban local bodies. The court expressed apprehension that the municipal polls could add to the intensity of the COVID-19 wave in the state and asked the poll panel to inform it about the steps being taken to contain the spread during polling. The SEC was asked to submit a detailed report by April 29, providing details of the preventive steps being taken at polling booths and during the counting of votes.
Elections to the Greater Warangal Municipal Corporation, the Khammam Municipal Corporation, and the Atchampet, Siddipet, Nakrekaral, Jadcherla and Kothur municipalities are scheduled to be held on April 30.
The SEC is going ahead with the conduct of the polls despite demands by opposition parties to scrap the elections. Opposition parties like the Congress have expressed fear that the elections could lead to a further spike in the coronavirus cases.
The High Court also expressed its unhappiness over the report submitted by the state government on the COVID-19 situation in Telangana, observing that the government has not provided the details in its report.
Voicing concern over the continuing surge in the number of cases and deaths, the court again asked the state government as to why it is not increasing the number of RT-PCR tests despite repeated directions.
The court directed that Home Isolation Telemedicine and Monitoring (HITAM) app be revived for those in home isolation. It also asked the health authorities to release a district-wise bulletin on COVID-19.
It also asked the government to increase toll-free numbers of COVID-19 control rooms. It also expressed its anguish over the lack of sufficient numbers of ambulances to transport dead bodies.
The High Court also termed as ridiculous the information that police registered only four cases in the state for violating social distancing norms.
The government in its report stated that from April 1 to April 25, a total of 23.55 lakh COVID-19 tests were conducted. These comprised 4.39 lakh RT PCR tests and 19.16 lakh rapid antigen tests. It informed the court that steps are being taken to increase the number of tests.
The court directed the government to submit a report with all the details and adjourned the hearing to May 5.