The COVID-19 pandemic continued to spread rapidly in Andhra Pradesh on the south coast, infecting nearly 3,000 people and claiming the lives of eight in 24 hours.
The death toll passed the 1,300 mark in the region when six patients in Prakasam district and two more in Nellore district succumbed to the virus, according to a health bulletin published Thursday by the state government. Normal life was compromised when authorities imposed an 18-hour curfew on Thursday for the second day.
Barricades were erected on the arterial roads in Nellore and Ongole to prevent unnecessary travel by people after noon. The shopkeepers shut down the shutters before noon to get back to their homes early as police staff strictly enforced the curfew to break the chain of transmission of the virus in the region.
In the past 24 hours, 1,666 people in Prakasam district and an additional 1,292 people in Nellore district fell ill with the virus, bringing the number of active cases in the two districts to over 28,000.
Healthcare professionals rushed to treat the large numbers of patients as it turned out that the available health infrastructure was insufficient to handle the active cases flowing into the hospitals of Vidya Vidan Parishad, as well as urban and rural public health centers.
Health workers temporarily arranged oxygen cylinders for patients waiting to be allocated at the Government General Hospital (GGH) in Ongole, which was overflowing with patients. The patients waited for hours to be admitted to the hospital.
The total load of the falls exceeded 1.68 lakh.
“We used to work with two oxygen cylinders for about a week. Now we need six to eight cylinders to move patients on the 108 ambulance after the number of cases has grown rapidly, ”said S.Vijaykumar, district manager of the 108 emergency services.
Meanwhile, Andhra Pradesh Congressional Committee Chairman Sripathy Prakasam called for a “health emergency” to be declared in the state and for funds to be diverted from other departments to the Health Department as active cases rose rapidly. “All government buildings should be converted into COVID Care Centers (CCCs) because isolation at home for positive cases will result in all family members of an infected person developing the virus,” he said.
The President of the Ongole Lok Sabha Unit of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), N. Balaji, called on the state government to give priority to vaccinating anyone over the age of 18 to stop the rise in cases.