- Goa had seven COVID-19 positive cases, all have recovered now
- Too early to tag our state as a "green zone”: Goa Health Minister
- Goa health department is focussing on intensifying COVID-19 testing
New Delhi: “Zero indeed has great value! Immensely happy to announce that all the COVID-19 positive cases in the state are now negative. Very grateful to our doctors and frontline workers who worked tirelessly and risked their lives to save others”, said Vishwajit Rane, Health Minister of Goa while sharing the news on Twitter. On April 19, Goa became the first coronavirus free state; all seven positive cases of COVID-19 in the state recovered and the number of active cases in Goa now stands at zero.
Zero indeed has great value! Immensely happy to announce that all the COVID-19 positive cases in the state are now NEGATIVE. Very grateful to our Doctors & frontline workers who worked tirelessly & risked their lives to save others. #GoaFightsCovid19 #COVIDfree pic.twitter.com/ZiUlAmDh25
— VishwajitRane (@visrane) April 19, 2020
In an exclusive interview with NDTV, Mr Rane shared Goa’s success story and the future plan of action to ensure no lives are lost due to the novel coronavirus. Talking about how Goa as a state managed to win the battle against COVID-19, Mr Rane said,
We were one of the few states to go in for an early lockdown and it was a very big challenge because we had to convince people that what we are doing is right at that point of time. In the beginning itself, we took certain preventive steps like capacity building, and the most important thing is we followed a very strict lockdown measure. Initially, there were some problems but subsequently, we suspended OPDs; social distancing was not clearly specified but we tried to do in our own little way. Also, bringing in lockdown is very easy but providing healthcare to the people during a lockdown, an interface between doctors and patients was a great challenge. Along with this, strictly followed all the government guidelines provided from time to time. We had total support of the Goan community which helped us in a very big way.
Goa as a state has unique challenges – it is one of the main tourist destinations, has a significant number of international travellers and shares borders with Maharashtra and Karnataka. Together these issues put a burden on Goa’s healthcare system and state’s testing and tracing protocol. Explaining how Goa battled the challenges, Mr Rane said,
We were tracing; we had a list of people who had come in, when they had come in and from where they had come. In Goa, a lot of times we have foreigners who come and stay for a month or two. My biggest worry was of seafarers, people who have been working on Ships out of Spain, Italy and other places and these people tested positive for COVID-19. For tourists and foreigners, we did random testing and luckily most of the cases were negative. We tracked the people and concentrated on ensuring that more number of people are kept under home quarantine for a period of 14 days.
Though the state is now free of COVID-19 and can be titled as ‘green zone’ as classified by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfares, Mr Rane believe it’s too early to take the tag. In fact, he believes in intensifying testing and testing protocol. Elaborating on the same, Mr Rane said,
When a state says ‘zero cases’ it doesn’t mean it’s in a safe zone. What we need to do is increase the testing facilities, increase the number of people that you bring in under testing spectrum and only then we will be able to identify, locate and then see exactly what the position in Goa is. I believe the challenge starts now because we have to ramp up our testing facilities. We are already doing about 500-1000 tests a day. With the industries starting, it becomes very important that we increase the spectrum of testing not only for the migrant labourers but also for the people in the industry.
Confirming that Goa will be testing aggressively in the coming days, on social media, Mr Rane announced the setting up of smart kiosks at various locations including borders, and airport. In a tweet, Mr Rane said, “While we have good news of zero COVID-19 cases in Goa, it is too early to tag our state as a “green zone”. It’s time to intensify the testing facilities, we are now drawing up protocols for random testing – testing of migratory workers, industrial workers, etc.”
While we have good news of zero COVID-19 cases in Goa, it is too early to tag our state as a "green zone". It's time to intensify the testing facilities, we are now drawing up protocols for random testing – testing of migratory workers, industrial workers, etc. (1/2)
— VishwajitRane (@visrane) April 19, 2020
A smart kiosk will be installed at all state borders for stringent testing. A kiosk will have sample collection facility, thermal guns, and other protective equipment to ensure safe collection of samples. Along with this, the kiosk will be disinfected regularly.
With our #COVID19 cases turning zero & relaxation of Industries as per MHA orders, it is vital that we ramp up our testing facilities.
We will be installing a state-of-art "Smart Kiosk", a robust method that will help increase our scope of testing with swift sample collection. pic.twitter.com/W5osj4icMp
— VishwajitRane (@visrane) April 21, 2020
According to the latest information available on Goa’s Directorate of Health Services’ official website, since January 29, 2020, while 1,794 individuals have been put under home quarantine, 202 contacts were under facility quarantine and 162 coronavirus suspects were put under isolation at Goa Medical College.