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Hyderabad: The Telangana government’s low sample test numbers for covid-19 has given doctors reason to believe that the actual figures for positive cases could be much higher.

The state government had earlier drawn flak from various quarters for not making public the number of tests regularly.

On Sunday, the state government data showed, till 14 May, a total of 22,842 sample tests had been conducted of which 1,388 were positive, while the total cases as of 17 May were 1,551. In comparison, Andhra Pradesh had conducted 2.01 lakh tests till 14 May, while tests in other states like Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra were 2.79 lakh and 2.30 lakh respectively.

The state government has maintained that tests and all other procedures are being followed as per Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). An official, involved in the handling of covid-19 in Telangana said on condition of anonymity that apart from primary contacts and taking up other quarantine measures, they are also testing people who show covid-19 symptoms, refuting allegations of low testing.

Of the 42 positive cases reported on 17 May, 37 were detected from the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) areas, two from Ranga Reddy district and the remaining two who were infected are migrants. Out of the total 1,551 cases, 992 (63%) of patients recovered and had been discharged from hospitals.

As of Sunday, there were 525 active cases in Telangana, while 34 others have succumbed so far. Senior health care practitioners from Hyderabad, casting doubts over the state’s testing numbers. “There are many people who are showing symptoms of covid-19 and we need more tests. The thing is that the disease is too widespread and looks like it is going to come in waves," said a doctor working at a private hospital who did not want to be quoted.

Another doctor, also working at a major private hospital, said there definitely needs to be more tests, and pointed out that there have been instances wherein those who approached the government complaining of symptoms had been turned away. “They are now doing the tests, but the cases could be much higher," the doctor said.

In Telangana, out of the state’s total 33 districts, 25 haven’t reported any fresh cases over the last 14 days. The districts of Warangal (urban), Yadadri and Wanaparthy haven’t reported any cases till date. Hyderabad still continues to remain a red zone as it is the most affected district in the state. While rural areas have more or less opened up, the capital city has largely remained shut, barring sale of essentials commodities and some other businesses.

Last week, chief minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao (KCR) said that most of the covid-19 cases in Hyderabad are restricted to only four zones in the city, which are LB Nagar, Karwan, Malalpet and Charminar. A statement from his office said the lockdown rules and guidelines given by the Centre will be complied with, and a strategy will be finalised once the lockdown ends.

The state cabinet will meet on Monday to discuss the fresh guidelines issued by the Centre on the lockdown and the strategy to be implemented to deal with the covid-19 pandemic. Since 16 May, automobile spare part shops and AC showrooms have been allowed to function in Hyderabad, and property registration offices and transport department offices also given green signal to function in Telangana.

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