Telugu Poet and Activist Varavara Rao Tests Positive for COVID-19

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Telugu poet and activist, Varavara Rao, has tested positive for COVID-19, according to a report. 

The Indian Express reported on Thursday that the seventy-nine year old has tested positive for COVID-19. 

According to a PTI report on Tuesday, Rao’s condition was said to be “stable” after he was shifted to the J.J. Hospital. Rao, lodged in the Taloja jail in neighbouring Navi Mumbai, was shifted to the government-run hospital in south Mumbai on Monday night, after he complained of giddiness.

According to Dr Ranjeet Mankeshwar, the Dean of J.J. Hospital, Rao had been admitted to the neurology department after he was brought to the medical facility from the jail on Monday night.

Members of Rao's family, writers and activists had asked the Maharashtra government to immediately

shift him to hospital for treatment, citing his deteriorating health condition. Highlighting reports citing the increasingly worsening health of Rao, the appeal said that “there is no reason in law or conscience to hold him in circumstances that increase risk to his fragile health”.

On Sunday, Rao’s family held a press conference and spoke about the alarming deterioration in his health and said he was receiving no treatment. On the evening of July 11, when Rao’s wife, Hemalata, asked him if he was okay, he struggled to comprehend the question. “He started talking about his father’s funeral instead,” N. Venugopal, Rao’s nephew, had said. 

On Monday, Rao filed two petitions in the Bombay High Court, seeking temporary bail owing to his deteriorating health and a direction to jail authorities to produce his medical records and admit him to a state-run or private hospital.

Rao and nine other activists have been arrested in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case, which was initially probed by the Pune Police and later transferred to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in January this year.

The case related to alleged inflammatory speeches made at the Elgar Parishad conclave held in Pune on December 31, 2017, which the police claimed triggered violence the next day near the Bhima-Koregaon war memorial.

First published in Newsclick.