HYDERABAD – Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao decided to evolve a strategy to contain the spread of Coronavirus in the next 3-4 days. Among the proposals put forward in this regard is re-imposition of lockdown for 15 days in the state capital Hyderabad.
Admitting a steep rise in corona cases at a high-level meeting at Pragathi Bhavan, his official residence, the chief minister assured the people of the state that there was no need to panic as the government was well-equipped to take on the corona challenge. However, the ground reality is at variance with his claim. The gravity of the situation can be gauged from the fact that both government and privately run hospitals are overcrowded with no beds available for new arrivals.
The patients in government hospitals far outnumber those in the private ones due to exorbitant rates charged by the private hospitals. With just a handful of hospitals taking up Covid-19 cases, the situation is turning from bad to worse.
Already many shop owners, traders and business houses of Hyderabad have imposed a voluntary lockdown to deal with the situation arising from spike in corona cases that cause panic among the people. Many shops are already closed in the busy Charminar area, a shopping hub with several markets despite relaxation to the lockdown in place. But now the shops in the entire city will remain closed for a week.
Maqbool, a bangle storeowner in Laad Bazar, Charminar, said the shop owners of Laad bazar have decided to close their shops from Friday (26 June) till next Friday in view of the growing number of covid cases.
While the Hyderabad Kirana Merchants Association has announced a voluntary lockdown, they have unanimously decided to close Begum Bazar from June 28 to July 5 out of their own accord. They said they were willing to face losses as they don’t want to risk their lives. President of the association, L N Rathi, in an interview to the electronic media, said the decision had been taken for the safety of the shopkeepers, their staff and also of the shoppers.
Begum Bazar is the biggest commercial hub in Hyderabad city with both retail and wholesale businesses. From June 28 onwards, it will remain closed thus shutting major business transactions in the city.
Miralam Mandi, one of the largest vegetable markets of the old city, has restricted their business hours from 4 am to 4 pm.
On June 25 alone, there were 920 new cases in Telangana state with the capital Hyderabad recording 737 cases. There are 12,349 positive cases as on June 26 as per the media bulletin issued by the Public Health Department. And more than 8,000 samples are waiting to be tested in the labs.
Though official figures put the death toll up to June 26 at 237, “the real number of deaths are easily anywhere between 500 to 600” said a healthcare giver in a government run hospital on condition of anonymity.
“The actual situation is so bad that in Barkas, a predominantly Muslim locality accounted for 12 deaths on a single day on June 24 and the local leaders were advising the residents to lock themselves in their homes,” informed Kamran a resident of the area.
“There have been about 20 to 25 deaths everyday on an average,” he added.
“While the situation is critical, people in old city of Hyderabad are very casual about it. This is why we have so many positive cases and so many deaths,” shared Mohammed Azam, a resident of Azampura.
“In private hospitals, there is absolutely no place and people are getting infected rapidly just like they catch cold and cough. Everyday at least 500 new cases are coming up,” said Dr. Mujtaba in a video he released advising people to take precautions and stay indoors for at least two weeks.
In some localities like Mehdipatnam, Chilkalguda, Skandagiri and other areas in Secunderabad, building associations and individuals are barricading their colonies to bar entry of outsiders and restrain the residents from going out.
The government, on its part, has yet to decide about imposing lockdown to deal with the situation which, according to the meeting held today, will be known soon.