Vijayawada is the new COVID-19 epicenter in AP

Vijayawada is the new COVID-19 epicenter in Andhra Pradesh

Governor tests negative after four Raj Bhavan staff's virus detection

Vijayawada, the political capital of Andhra Pradesh, has become the new epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in the state.

Out of the 222 cases reported from AP in the last three days, 110 – half – are of Vijayawada and surroundings, where several government establishments are.

Among the fresh positive cases detected are four of the Andhra Pradesh Raj Bhavan staff, triggering the health officials to check the samples of the Governor Biswabhushan Harichandan. AP’s special chief secretary Dr. Jawahar Reddy confirmed to DH that the governor has tested negative.

Some of these asymptomatic four have proximity to the governor – his chief security officer and his butler. The other two are staff nurses and housekeeping staff.

“Whether he is positive or negative, the governor and other Raj Bhavan staff, now primary contacts, have to be quarantined. We are not sure from where the four have acquired the virus,” a highly placed source in the government told DH.

Such untraceable origins of infection among several other cases reported from Vijayawada have the Krishna district machinery jittery.  

“Over 90 percent of the district’s cases are from Vijayawada and we could not establish the source of several cases till now. There are five auto-drivers, one employee in a popular mall and so on,” a senior doctor at the COVID-19 control room says.

At the same time, quite a few cases have a single source. A truck driver in the city’s Krishnalanka has infected about 25, playing rummy like card games with neighbors and friends, while a food outlet operator is said to be the cause of around 35 infections. 

Stringent restrictions on public movement could have helped avoid the disturbing numbers, health officials lament. “Lockdown passes were issued at will by the police allowing several people to move freely in the city,” the doctor said.  

At-least eight policemen are also virus hit, reportedly. On Monday, videos emerged where Vijayawada police are seen moving people found loitering on roads into ambulances “to be taken for confinement.”

Vijayawada lies along-side the Krishna river, the other side of which is Guntur district where the capital Amaravati is located. COVID-19 cases in Guntur have eased in the last three days, with a total of 237. Kurnool in Rayalaseema still tops with 292 cases.