Amidst a rising spate of coronavirus infection in the state, the Goa government declared Goa open for domestic tourists at the beginning of July, granting permission to around 250 hotels to operate. At that time, however, Goa had reported around 1500 confirmed coronavirus positive cases.
A month later, the numbers have skyrocketed. Today, the state is almost nearing 6000 confirmed positive cases as per the July 31st bulletin of the Health Department.
Goa witnessed its highest single-day rise of 258 coronavirus cases on July 27. By the end of the month, the state has a total of 5913 cases – of which 1657 are active cases – and 45 deaths reported.
On July 15, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, addressing a press briefing announced a three-day complete lockdown and a ‘janata curfew’ from 8 pm to 6 am till August 10, aimed at containing the spread of infection within the state.
However, at the end of the month, Goa stares in dismay, as after being the first state in India to be declared ‘corona free’ in April, it is now witnessing a rise in cases, which look nowhere close to being contained.
To understand better, consider this. As on June 30, Goa had reported 1315 confirmed cases. A month later, on July 31, the state has a total of 5913 confirmed cases – a whopping addition of 4598 cases – just within the one month. This is a 240.34% rise in total cases from June. Also, the cases detected in the month of July make up for 77.76% of the total cases the state has witnessed so far.
Moreover, after having three deaths reported at the end of June, the state today has reported 45 deaths – the youngest being a 14-year-old girl from Vasco area. Former health minister Dr Suresh Amonkar and Mormugao Municipal Councillor Pascoal D’Souza also succumbed to the infection earlier this month.
The initial outbreak which began on June 1 at Mangor Hill, a crowded township in Vasco, quickly spread to other locations, despite being declared a containment zone swiftly. Today, the surge in cases has not been limited to just a few locations, but are from over 50 places spread across the length and breadth of the state. Around 10 locations have been notified as ‘containment zones’ and ‘micro-containment zones’ by district administrations after several cases were detected in those areas.
What really lead to the situation Goa is in right now, however, is a result of a combination of problems from administrative glitches to mismanagement of containment zones, shortage of ambulance services, social stigmatization and testing difficulties.
Goa, considered to be somewhat lucky to have survived the initial outbreak in April and May, is now reeling under pressure after being corona-free officially for 23 days. The timely establishment of the ESI Covid-19 Hospital in Margao, under the leadership of Dr Edwin Gomes, with assistance from Dr Ira Almeida succeeded at comprehending the spread within the state.
But the government couldn’t just ‘park the bus’. After detecting that several cases were asymptomatic, the state health administration set-up COVID-care centres across the state, as the ESI hospital was kept primarily for symptomatic patients and those needing treatment for other co-morbid conditions.
The state has been facing another mighty task – delivering test results within the stipulated time. The last week of July witnessed a huge backlog of test results, mostly at the South Goa District Hospital. This has been attributed to increased swab collection after outbreaks from major locations were witnessed.
The industrial areas of Verna and Cuncolim have also been under the radar after several employees of some industrial units tested positive. With this increased load to test from the industrial areas, the administration was caught in a tough spot with over 5000 pending results last week.
To make things better, the state has begun antigen testing at the two district hospitals at Margao and Azilo in Mapusa, and also at sub-district hospitals of Ponda and Chicalim. This is expected to speed up the testing process as it will deliver results quickly as compared to RT-PCR tests. The state received around 20,000 kits on Thursday, clarified Health Secretary at a press conference yesterday.
Moving ahead, the state government needs to ramp up its testing and deliver results quickly so that patients can be provided with the necessary treatment needed, as delayed results only make it difficult for one to get the desired medical attention.
Goa’s continuing surge comes at a time when the country too has been recording the highest single-day spikes of over 55,000 cases, becoming one of the fasted growing countries in terms of the spread of the virus. As the country moves into Unlock 3.0 phase, collaborated efforts between all agencies is the need of the hour – with the simple rule of testing, isolating and treatment.