A Tougher Battle

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Goa needs stronger armour to defeat Coronavirus

With several coronavirus cases detected in the Mangor Hill area of the port town of Vasco, the fears of community transmission of the dreaded disease have come true. What was claimed to be an isolated and localised case of members of a family being infected by the virus has turned out to be a case of mass transmission which may not be limited to Mangor Hill or Vasco. The alarm rang with two confirmed cases at Mangor Hill on Monday that rose to 21 cases on Tuesday. As more and more tests are done the figure has increased and is going to increase further. The lines between local transmission and community transmission have been breached. The situation is made worse by the reluctance of the first cases at Mangor Hill to reveal the source from whom they got the infection. People of Goa expect the state government to scale up testing and reinforce surveillance to restrict the spread of the virus outside the containment zone of Mangor Hill.

It is indeed worrying to note that the government authorities have not been able to find the source from which the family got afflicted, though two of the neighbours have got the disease through their contact with the family. The officials say the family which was afflicted by the virus has not been cooperative. Are the government authorities so helpless that they cannot get the family to speak as to how the members got infected? If the family is not opening up the issue cannot be closed, for if the authorities are not able to trace the source, the source could be spreading the virus among others. It is the question of the health and wellbeing of the entire Goan population; the authorities need to act in accordance with the law to protect the interest of Goans at large before it is too late by tracking down the source. The more delay in finding the source, the more dangerous would be the consequences.

 The first cases at Mangor Hill were believed to be members of a family that was in fish vending business. The members might have dealt with scores of customers in the port town and elsewhere and unknowingly passed on the virus to others. Though tracing every customer or person who may have come in contact with the family may be a bit difficult, it should be endeavour of the health authorities to locate most of them if not all and test them for prevalence of virus. The authorities need to widen the scope of testing not only in the containment area but also in three assembly constituencies of Vasco, Mormugao and Dabolim which are congruous and whose people frequent the port town. The Mangor Hill episode could be the tip of an iceberg. Nothing should be left to chances. A thorough probe should be conducted whether any member of the family clandestinely travelled outside the state and got the virus and passed on to the others. The allegation that members of the family got infected from visitors to it from other state should also be probed.

Carlos Almeida, MLA representing Vasco has rightly said the whole port town could be declared as a containment zone and every person residing in the town tested. It is also necessary the surveillance in other parts of the state, which have received people from other states since the interstate movement of people was allowed, following relaxation of the lockdown, should be increased. All those showing signs of any form of influenza should be tested to rule out the possibility of coronavirus. It is sorry to note that Goa, which worked hard to earn praise for getting into the green zone, today finds itself in the list of states which have hundred plus cases, because the government’s anti-COVID strategy had major inadequacies and inconsistencies. There is still time for the state government to save Goa from outbreaks of community transmission in other parts of Goa. Prevention is better than cure. The state government has increased its COVID testing capacity. It should increase it further. Medical surveillance and police enforcement of social distancing and mask must be strengthened.
The state government should re-impose some earlier restrictions.