Control The Crowd

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Government must get serious about enforcing COVID restrictions

Even while the state is recording new highs of COVID cases, health experts have warned that the worst of the ongoing second wave of the pandemic is yet to come. According to them, the current surge is not the peak that we have seen. The next few weeks are extremely crucial for the state as the surge is expected to continue. On Wednesday Goa recorded the highest number of COVID cases with 1,502 fresh cases being reported from different parts. In the process the state recorded the highest ever positivity rate of 36.73 percent, more than double the national average. While the situation is grim, the rising numbers call for strict enforcement of restrictions by the state government and greater personal and social responsibility of the citizens. The situation could worsen if the government fails in enforcing the restrictions and even imposing more stringent measures if need be.

A surveillance report based on Arogya Setu app prepared by the department of preventive social medicine at Goa Medical College and Hospital has revealed that the number of COVID-19 hotspots in the state has jumped from 130 to 179. Of the 179 hotspots, 49 are new and emerging, prompting the department to alert the government and recommend that appropriate steps be taken to contain the incidence of new COVID-19 cases and prevent resultant deaths associated with the disease. According to the report, areas turning from pink to pink suggest a high probability of infection, which are only predictive. The report further states that in another two weeks’ time, a large number of cases would be reported from these places. According to experts, those who have been diagnosed to have been affected by the coronavirus in the last 15 days will continue to progress and around 15 per cent will develop moderate COVID-19 and would require medical attention. Besides, three per cent of those developing moderate cases could turn critical and will require intensive care including oxygen support.

After ignoring the warnings from medical experts for stricter regime to control the spread of the virus, the government has imposed night curfew till the end of the month effective from Wednesday night. As was the case last year when severe restrictions were imposed, the government imposed night curfew abruptly; an announcement to this effect was made quite late in the evening taking many people by surprise. Though quite a slew of measures like restricting entry to 50 per cent of capacity at casinos, restaurants, pubs, gyms, cinema halls and theatres have been announced, the medical experts believe that they came too late and are unlikely to reverse the rising graph of COVID cases in the near future. The government has shut down swimming pools, schools, colleges and disallowed social, political, sports, academic, entertainment and cultural congregations. While these restrictions aimed to control the spread of virus have been put in place it remains to be seen what mechanism the government would put in place to ensure their enforcement. Failure to oversee implementation of the curbs will nullify the efforts.

Some states have imposed weekend curfew. Goa should have done it too. The failure of the government to make its rules and restrictions work has led to the present situation in which the infection rate, positivity rate and mortality are rising. There being limited capacity to provide institutional treatment to those affected by the virus, many people tend to undergo home quarantine and there is every possibility of them passing on the virus to others in the family who must be moving out and spreading it to even a greater number of people. Besides, there have been reports of those diagnosed to be coronavirus positive moving freely with none keeping watch on their movement. Such situations could lead to transmission quickly. According to experts, the effect of the micro-containment zone or limited lockdown will not translate into a reduction in the number of fresh cases and deaths immediately. The actual effect of curbs will depend on how sincerely and strictly the protocols and norms are implemented. It is for the state government to be serious about enforcing the COVID discipline at businesses and other places that attract crowds.