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Source of 50% Covid-19 Cases Unknown in Andhra’s Hotbed Vijayawada, Most Patients Asymptomatic

People stand in a queue to buy vegetables during lockdown in Vijayawada. (Photo: PTI)

People stand in a queue to buy vegetables during lockdown in Vijayawada. (Photo: PTI)

The city has about 18 containment zones and will remain under lockdown till May 3, as per central government’s guidelines.

Hyderabad: Raising concerns of ‘community transmission,’ a district collector in Andhra Pradesh has said that source of almost half of the COVID-19 positive cases in Vijayawada is unknown and most patients are asymptomatic.

A Md Imtiaz, Krishna District Collector, raised an alarm and cautioned that Vijayawada city is turning into a hotbed with majority of positive cases from the district, reported in the city corporation areas and adjoining mandals.

Krishna district, of which Vijaywada is a part, has recorded the highest deaths compared to the rest of the districts in the state.

“There are apprehensions of community transmission. We have about 72 cases in Vijayawada alone as of Monday and for about 30 cases, we were not able to trace the source of where people contracted the virus from. This is a worrying situation. These are people with no travel history and nor have they been in contact of anyone,” Imtiaz told News18.

He said that most people (about 90 percent) who were tested showed no symptoms, further adding to worry to the grave situation.

According to the police, a few of these patients said they just stepped out of their homes to go to grocery stores or Rythu Bazaars (subsidised vegetable markets). In one particular case, the patient visited medical shops and hospitals to supply saline bottles, and how he got exposed to the virus remains a mystery.

The total number of cases in Krishna district is 80, and the total number of cases reported in Andhra stood at 722 on Monday.

With every nook and corner of Vijayawada turning into a red zone, the focus is now on its high and mighty neighborhood. The state secretariat, Assembly, Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy’s residence cum camp office and main opposition leader Chandrababu Naidu’s house are located in the 20 kilometer radius of the town.

The city has about 18 containment zones and will remain under lockdown till May 3, as per central government’s guidelines. However, the state government has agreed to the relaxations proposed by the Centre and said they would implement it.

Since most of the city areas are now a ‘red zone’, there wouldn’t be much of easing, say authorities.

The administration has deployed additional police force on ground and drones are being used to keep an eye on lockdown violators. The government is increasing doorstep deliveries of essentials in the city to stop people from stepping out. Meat and seafood shops are shut in the red zones of the city.

In the coming days, the district, particularly the city, is set to witness large-scale testing. Up until now about 4,500 samples were tested. About 14,000 rapid testing kits are set to arrive to the district and all those will be handed over to health workers at the mandal level.

“We have categorised groups on how to test people. We will first start with senior citizens and then people staying in areas where Covid-19 cases were reported,” he said.

Appealing to people to stay indoors and maintain social distancing, the collector had also warned that stringent action will be taken on anyone defying the rules of the lockdown.

“It is extremely important that people do not step out and not come in contact with anyone. In one case, a person tested positive after 28 days and his mother tested positive two days after that. We still don’t know how the virus behaves — the only way we can protect ourselves now is being on lockdown,” he said.

first published:April 21, 2020, 08:06 IST