Ahead of Holi and other upcoming festivals, the Telangana Health Department on Saturday asked the vulnerable groups-- those above 60 years, people with comorbidities and children-- against participating in the celebrations, in view of the surge in COVID-19 cases. The state will be celebrating Holi on Monday.
“Others who want to participate in the festival, please observe COVID-19 appropriate behaviour. You can play with Holi colours, but take necessary precautions because the virus is spreading rapidly,” cautioned Director of Public Health (DPH) Dr G Srinivasa Rao. “Following Holi, there are festivals like Ugadi, Easter and Ramzan, so everyone should be careful and practice COVID-19 appropriate behaviour,” the DPH said, urging people against social gatherings that could lead to spreading of the coronavirus.
The Telangana police also ordered that in the “interest of public peace and tranquillity”, all bars, wine and toddy shops, excluding those attached to star hotels and registered clubs, will be closed within the Rachakonda and Cyberabad Police Commissionerate limits. The rule will be in place from 6 pm on Sunday to 6 am on Tuesday.
“In the past 15 days it has been noticed that there is an increase in the cases, but the crisis is not as severe as the neighbouring states like Maharashtra or Kerala. However, if we do not take necessary precautions, we too will be in their situation,” said Dr K Ramesh, Director of Medical Education (DME).
In view of the increasing COVID-19 cases, the government has ramped up testing in the state to 70,000 per day. As per the medical bulletin issued on Saturday, 495 persons have tested positive for the coronavirus, taking the total number of cases to 3,05,804 in Telangana. Two fatalities were also recorded on Saturday, which takes the death count to 1685. The state has a total of 4241 active cases currently, the bulletin said.
Speaking about the preparedness to handle the crisis, the DME said, “We have nearly 10,000 oxygen beds, 1700 ventilators and Cpap machines. All the community centres are being equipped with equipment which is usually available in Intensive Care Units.” “These facilities are not just available in District Headquarters, but even in remote parts of the state,” he said.
The DME also said that they have changed their approach in handling the crisis by decentralizing it. Earlier, only Gandhi Hospital in Hyderabad was treating COVID-19 cases. However, with the numbers rising rapidly, the decision to decentralize has been taken.