High Positivity Rate

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Like Mumbai and Delhi, Goa too should reduce it to below 5 percent

The lockdown has paid off in Goa. There has been a significant fall in the positivity rate and the number of daily fresh COVID-19 cases in the state. The government has rightly decided to extend the curfew by another week. The extended curfew will go on till June 7. It might be recalled that the government had first ordered an 81-hour limited lockdown at the end of April to bring down the rising number of COVID positive cases, but the measure failed to yield any results. Thereafter the state government imposed a 15-day curfew, which was to end on May 23 but was extended as the coronavirus positive cases did not show any sign of decline. The number of cases started showing signs of decline following the extension of curfew. However, the positivity rate at 22 percent is still a matter of serious concern. That has compelled the government to extend the curfew by another week. Goa had recorded the highest positivity rate of over 52 percent in the country last month, which till last week was hovering between 30 percent and 40 percent. The extended curfew is expected to bring down the positivity rate. But it remains to be seen by how much.

If you compare Goa to other states or cities, a positivity rate of 22 percent and a little under one thousand fresh positive cases are too high for a small state which has a population of little over 15 lakh. The two biggest cities in the country, Mumbai and Delhi have been recording a positivity rate of well under five percent for over a week. Mumbai with a population of over 2.06 crore recorded 1,048 new COVID cases but its test positivity rate was under four percent on Saturday. Delhi, the national capital with a population of 1.9 crore, on the other hand recorded 956 cases and recorded a positivity rate of just 1.19 percent. The two metropolitan cities in the country managed to bring the positivity rate to highly manageable levels by ordering lockdown for almost two months. They have refused to withdraw stringent measures in place despite having recorded big falls in COVID positive cases. The two metro cities have been recording a recovery rate of 93 and 96 percent respectively as against 88 percent in Goa.

As has been the case in the rest of the country, Goa also saw a big surge during the second wave of the pandemic, overwhelming the healthcare infrastructure. The COVID cases started rising in the state in late March. The number of COVID cases peaked to 4,195 on May 7. After hovering over the 2500 mark for over a week, the cases slowly started reducing after the curfew was enforced. In the process the state faced the horrifying reality of having more than 10 percent of its population (over 1.54 lakh people) affected by the virus, which till Saturday had also claimed nearly 2,600 lives. After having recorded cases in thousands for 39 consecutive days, Goa on Saturday recorded 963 cases. Given the prevalent high positivity rate, a week’s extension may not suffice and the authorities would have to extend the curbs till the positivity rate declines to below 5 percent.

Though the number of COVID cases is declining in the state, the authorities need to be vigilant.  The central government has asked all the states and Union territories to continue with the ongoing COVID guidelines till June 30. Goa must continue with lockdown for the whole of the June month in order to get the pandemic under control.  As medical experts have hinted that the third wave could hit the country, it should be the endeavour of the state authorities to put in place stringent measures. The state should also go in for a big time vaccination drive which can help build herd immunity and keep the virus at bay before allowing economic activities to resume fully. While the government has to take a decision in the best interest of the people, Goans should observe COVID protocol in public places in order to keep the virus at bay.