The detection of five coronavirus positive cases in Goa has highlighted once again the absolute need for total surveillance of those arriving from foreign destinations. The earlier strategy was to wait for positive cases to surface and then to start tracing the relations, friends and acquaintances the patient had met since their arrival. The state government needs to mobilise its healthcare manpower and infrastructure to cast its net wide to enforce home quarantine according to the standards, which does not allow persons to move out of isolation.
Thousands of foreigners and Goans who arrived in Goa from abroad during the past three months were left to roam around. The health department should have assigned health workers and other administrative officials to maintain check on them for their health parameters. The same thing happened in other parts of the country, because the testing infrastructure was not adequate. But now more testing labs have been approved. The central government has asked states to immediately strengthen surveillance of international air travellers who entered India between January 18 to March 23. An estimated 15 lakh people arrived during the period.
The state should double its efforts to not only track down all those who came down from abroad but also those who might have come in direct contact with them in order to detect if any of them were infected in the process. It is sad to note that stamping of overseas passengers began on a war footing only after the first three positive cases were detected in Goa. Health Minister Vishwajit Rane has lamented that some of those diagnosed with the virus had hid their travel history. As others like them too might hide their travel history, Rane’s focus in the coming few weeks should be entirely upon setting up teams of health workers and sending them to the homes of the persons with travel history for daily and periodic checks.