Coverage by Bhat Dittakavi on “Everything you need to know about Lockdown” by Dr. Srinivasa Rao, VC Sajjanar and Jayesh Ranjan at TiE Talks on 27th March 2020
Mr. Jayesh Ranjan, IAS, Principal Secretary
Mr. VC Sajjanar, IPS, Commissioner of Police
Dr. G. Srinivasa Rao, Director, Public Health
Mr. Viiveck Verma, CSO, Srinivasa Farms (Moderator)
Pandemic or economic excellence, Hyderbad is always on top of things. Kudos to the diversified ecosystems of governance, industry, and society that work selflessly for keeping Hyderabad up and running. Dr. Srinivasa Rao, Director of Public Health wants the city to adhere to the guidelines of the Lockdown so well that the world will start making a note of the progress we make out of the preparedness. Yes, we can do it together and come out least touched by COVID. Here is a panel discussion by key decision-makers of COVID Hyderabad team. Let us know the facts, bust the myths and understand the guidelines.
Dr. Srinivas: India reported 750 COVID’19 cases till date. We have 47 positive cases in Telanagana of which 46 are in good health and none of them is on ventilation. One case got completely cured. More than 19,000 foreign returns are kept under vigilance. The state-level task force is being directed by honorable CM of Telangana.
Sajjanar: We have taken lots of measures for free movement of the essentials, healthcare workers and people who need medical care.
Jayesh: People who need to continue to work (500,000 IT workers) are facilitated by the police. We have noticed 30% increase in data bandwidth and we ensured the demand is met by working with the respective service providers. Suppliers and delivery workers of essential goods are allowed to move around the city with ID cards and passes. Many businesses are affected. We are taking stock of what relief we can announce for SMEs and entrepreneurs. We will announce the benefits in a couple of days after collating inputs we got and working with the respective ministries.
Viiveck Verma: Can you give more details about the numbers?
Srinivas: We have tested more than 1300 people of which 80% are foreign returnees. Most of the ones who tested have travelled from abroad or related to them. 35 out of 47 cases are from GHMC that has one crore people. This is a challenge and the government imposed lockdown to cut the chain of transmission.
Viiveck Verma: There exists a lot of panic around buying essentials and esp hoarding. What are your comments?
Sajjanar: Government Order is very clear for the public to go and shop within a 3km radius. Supermarkets have restricted timings. I have gone to a couple of supermarkets and I noticed some are buying in bulk under panic. I advise you not to hoard or buy in bulk. We have requested the grocery merchants to sell in smaller packets and ration the sale. If essentials are not available within the three-kilometer radius, check posts are allowing them as long as they have a valid reason.
Viiveck Verma: As you rightly said, we have lakhs of IT workers. What is your take on some IT workers who require to work from their offices?
Jayesh: We left the decision to the companies to make the decision on which employees can work from home and which ones have to be at work. 95% of the people are working from home. 5% of the five lakh IT workers are working from the offices either due to the nature of work. Hyderabad Security Council evaluates and seeks the police to issue the passes so the employees can reach office and take care of critical work.
Viiveck Verma: What is our preparedness in case the number of cases skyrockets?
Dr. Srinivas: At present, things are under control. We are trying to establish 6 laboratories for doing tests in thousands. Our current capacity is 300. No suspect will be denied form testing. Across the states, surveillance systems are deployed across the state. We could cover 20,000 households that got possible contact with 10 foreign returns in Karim Nagar. Gandhi Hospital is providing the treatment and the entire hospital would be mostly dedicated to COVID 19. This hospital can provide 1000 beds. Across the other hospitals, we have 4,500 beds. 80% of patients don’t need any treatment. 15% may need some treatment at the district level or isolation facility. Only 2% require ventilators. Our CM has directed us to prepare for the worst. We will have 1000 ventilators available in the next few days. Telangana is a healthcare hub and if a situation arises, we seek private hospitals to support us.
Viiveck Verma: I am the chief strategy advisor of a poultry firm named Srinivasa Hatcheries. How do you address the need for movement of livestock?
Sajjanar: I advise the poultry industry to have their delivery folks carry the ID and police will let the movement of livestock happen.
Viiveck Verma: Now that everyone is working from home, how are we handling the increased demand for data?
Jayesh: Broadband uptake has gone up by at least 30%. All four carriers have identified high demand areas and are willing to work with the neighborhoods to get the additional infrastructure up and running. There seems no major complaints about broadband speeds. DSCI cybersecurity is working on strengthening security.
All of us are aware that lockdown hits the daily wagers the hardest. GHMC and Hyderabad district collectors have started helping these people through donations coming from the public. On top of donations, either in terms of money or groceries, we seek, we also need more and more volunteers. Please write to firstname.lastname@example.org or Whatsapp to 98564 23333 if you want to be a volunteer.
There are companies that can make any amount of sanitizers but their procurement of raw materials from Gujarat and elsewhere is being facilitated.
Viiveck Verma: Do you advise residents of gated communities to go and jog within the safer distance?
Srinivas: Practice yoga within your four walls. This is one way to stay fit. We will get an opportunity to go out and exercise after the lockdown. We have to cut the chain of transmission. Only 5 out of the 47 subjects are elderly people. We don’t know how it pans out in the future. Take care of the elderly and don’t allow them to go outside. Provide them with what they need. They are the most vulnerable and comorbidity is difficult to handle.
Viiveck Verma: If someone is looking to get a pass to move around for a genuine and essential need, what should he do?
Sajjanar: You can contact COVID 19 control room at 94906 17440 and we will issue passes to those in genuine need. Report any violations or any concerns to this number. We have got 7000 police force deployed 24×7 in 9 inter-district check posts and 55 junctions. We are supplying them with masks and sanitizers. We are working for you and please stay at home. A lot of corporate employees who stay in the hostel are anxious. We alerted the IT industry that there are some rumors on PG hostel owners asking the tenants to vacate. If you find any PG hostel owner forces you to vacate the rooms, please reach out to us.
Viiveck Verma: How prepared we are for resurgence of COVID in the future?
Srinivas: There is always a chance of resurgence of the virus. Lockdown is one measure but we are taking other measures too. We must be prepared. Keep up the personal hygiene and social distance. There is a state-level control center by the health department. People call 104 for any medical advice. We have a rapid action force that will help you. Don’t believe in myths or rumors that come through electronic media.
Sajjanar: I request the public not to forward any message unless they know the authenticity of the message. Our cyber teams work on tracking those who create rumors. Spend time with your family. Do yoga and be safe.
Viiveck Verma: One parting message please.
Srinivas: See this as a lifetime opportunity. Spend quality time with your own family. Have video chats with your distant relatives and friends. Technology is there. The government is working only to take care of you and the community. We are here to support you. We request you to stay home for the next few weeks so we come together to cut the chain of transmission. We can show as a country that we can successfully contain the virus together.
Sajjanar: Don’t get panic. Request you to be safe and follow the precautions needed. Listen to the healthcare department and follow their instructions.
A big round of applause to Viveck Verma for driving the panel session so well and asking the panel timely questions and representing the public.