A day after the central government announced the resumption of domestic flight services from May 25, the state government on Saturday came out with its own standard operating procedure (SOP) that will be uniform for all domestic passengers arriving in the state by road, rail or flights.
Health Secretary Nila Mohanan told a press conference in Panaji that as per the SOP, upon arrival at the first entry point, the passengers will have to undergo thermal screening and if the person is found having abnormal body temperature, the person will be directly taken for COVID-19 testing.
If the passenger clears the thermal screening then the person will have two options. The first option will be to get tested for COVID-19 by paying Rs 2,000 and the second option will be to skip the test and undergo a mandatory 14-day home quarantine.
Mohanan informed that all passengers will be asked to fill a self-declaration form at the first entry point wherein they will have to provide their personal details including local address and phone numbers.
She said that passengers opting for COVID-19 test will have to give their throat swab samples and a self-declaration that they will maintain self-isolation till the test results are out after which they are free to go wherever they wish to. The passengers choosing the 14-day home quarantine option will have to give a self-declaration that they would adhere to the instructions issued to them.
“If the passengers’ samples test positive then they will be tracked by contacting over the phone, and the passengers opting for home quarantine…their list will be shared with the concerned medical officer, who, with the help of panchayat or municipality and local police will maintain strict vigilance to ensure that they don’t violate the guidelines,” Mohanan said.
The health secretary said that even after completing the 14-day home quarantine period, passengers will not be tested for COVID-19.
“Throughout the 14-day period they will be contacted by our medical officers over the phone and checked if they are experiencing any symptoms of the virus. If they are found with symptoms then only they will be tested…we will also share the phone numbers of nearest health centres and ask them to be in touch with us,” she said.
Mohanan said that if a passenger gives inaccurate information in the self-declaration form then the passenger is liable for action under Section 188 of Indian Penal Code, under the Disaster Management Act and also under the Disease Epidemic Act.
Stating that quarantining is a burden, Mohanan said that government does not have the required infrastructure, manpower and logistics to quarantine passengers at the first entry point (airport/railway stations/border checkposts) till their COVID-19 test results are out.
“There is a risk (risk of local transmission of COVID-19) but we expect the people who are coming to Goa to act responsibly and we will make them aware of what the consequences will be if they are found to be violating it,” she said adding that the decision is taken by the state government and protocol has been set after the government felt that it is practical and feasible to be implemented by ensuring that maximum possible measures are being taken for the safety of the people.
Mohanan said that Goa is testing around 1,000 samples on an average and added that the testing capacity will soon be expanded by getting high capacity machines in the coming days. She said AYUSH doctors will be roped in to ‘maintain’ home quarantine protocols. Mohanan said the protocol for international passengers would continue to remain same as issued earlier.