Goa – the first state in the country to be declared a ‘corona free’ state – has practically switched sides, all within a span of just the last three months. With Unlock 1.0 from June 1st, Goa’s COVID-19 curve began picking up, with surges of two-digit numbers in June.
Fast track to August 31st, Goa has over 17,000 cases in total, a surge comparatively very high for a population of just 15 lakhs. Also, Goa is also the only state in the country to already have 1% of its population infected with the coronavirus infection.
The citizens of the state however – with the CM’s regular ‘bhivpachi garaz nam’ – has lost its trust with the government, as many argue that covid-19 mismanagement is the sole reason for the surge of cases in the state.
To understand, consider this. Goa had 5913 total confirmed cases a month earlier, on July 31st. Today, a month later, Goa has 17,418 total confirmed cases. This means, 66% of Goa’s total cases since the onset of the pandemic have emerged within this one month itself.
However, it can be fairly argued that the rise in cases is due to increase in testing. Goa has the highest testing rate in the country, with a rate of 1584 tests per million.
The coronavirus outbreak in the state, which initially began from the Mangor hill area, spread across the state. Following that, the industrial estate areas of Verna and Cuncolim were the next hotspot areas, with several employees of companies testing positive, prompting authorities to pull up their boots and increase testing.
Goa’s mortality rate, currently at 1.1% is on par with much larger populated states such as Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand. 192 persons in total have succumbed in the state – the youngest a 14-year old girl from Vasco.
Gloomily, 76% of the total deaths in the state have occurred within this one month itself. States with larger populations have lesser deaths – for example, Jharkhand with a population of 3.74 crore has 390 deaths.
Majority of the deaths however have been tagged as ‘co-morbid’ conditions, something Goa’s former Governor Satya Pal Malik said cannot be used as an excuse. “Deaths are increasing and they (state government) cannot use comorbidity as an excuse for increasing deaths,” he had said.
Health Minister Vishwajit Rane acknowledged this recently, saying, “We are trying to see that co-morbid deaths are reduced. We cannot just say that people died due to co-morbidities,” he said, adding, “Our team of doctors is working day and night to reduce deaths.”
Initially, Goa took over 114 days to report the first 20 deaths in the state, however, now the state witnesses nearly 20 deaths every three days.
Although, the state’s recovery rates is relatively high, with over 13,500 recoveries till date. Currently, the state has 3649 active cases in the state.
Now, as the state finds itself in an orange zone as per central statistics, the state’s failure to cater to a relative very small population of just over 15 lakhs has flagged out several questions.
Moreover, selective preferential treatment for VIP’s – political leaders and bureaucrat’s – have irked many across the state. However, health minister says that ‘all people of Goa are VIP’s and not politicians’.
At the centre of the state’s fight against pandemic, Goa’s only tertiary hospital has seen it all. Now, four new wards – ward 112 added today – have been designated to treat serious and co-morbid conditions of Covid-19 positive patients.
Countries such as Italy and Spain have managed to get themselves to safer grounds from this pandemic situation, and the mantra remains the same till today – aggressive testing, tracing, isolation and treatment; something that the state is doing as per daily statistics dished out by the Health department, but there is still much to be done in this fight against the unseen.