Vijayawada: The Telugu Desam Party’s national president and former Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, on 6 April, accused the ruling party of under-reporting Corona virus cases at a time when other states like Kerala had managed to control the disease by bringing transparency in conducting tests.

Andhra should immediately step up testing on a war-footing in order to identify and isolate positive cases to prevent transmission, he said. Kerala has conducted 10,200 COVID-19 tests, Karnataka 5,600, and Rajasthan 12,000 tests so far but no such data is available regarding Andhra Pradesh. If the AP government continues to neglect the situation without realising its seriousness, the state will soon be on the brink of a human disaster, he said.

Addressing media persons online from his residence, Mr Naidu said the COVID-19 threat in Andhra Pradesh was very alarming in view of the steep rise in the number of positive cases in various parts of the state. He was concerned that AP had reported a 1,021 per cent rise in the number of cases against India’s average of 222 per cent in the past week. This reflected the potentially dangerous situation that requires the state government to come forward to support the people.
Pointing out that Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached out to Opposition leaders and experts to mitigate the outbreak, Mr Naidu asked Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy to shed his inhibitions and consult all leaders, intellectuals, NGOs, and people’s organisations and make united efforts. “This is not a time for blame game considering how people are becoming vulnerable because of loss of work, home isolation, and general financial distress,” he said.

Mr Naidu demanded that, like in Delhi, the AP government provide financial assistance of Rs. 5,000 to all poor families, including the 18 lakh families whose ration cards were cancelled recently. He urged the state government to deliver 5 kg rice, 1 kg dal, 1 LPG cylinder, and midday meals to poor families as ordered by the Centre. The TDP chief said this is necessary to prevent poor people from becoming vulnerable. “If they do not eat two meals a day, they will not have the immunity required to fight back the epidemic,” he said.

Mr Naidu also asked the government to pay the full salaries of employees in due recognition of their work during the month. “It is not correct to punish innocent poor people and employees while the government had given away Rs. 6,000 crore to contractors recently. The government should behave responsibly in this crucial situation,” he said.

He warned of a severe threat to food security if the government does not use the price stabilisation funds to prevent losses to farmers. Immediate help should be given to horticulture, aquaculture, and sericulture farmers across the state, he said.

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