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Not Under Control

Generals fighting COVID must stop new annexations

Even as the COVID graph goes upward and upward every day in the state, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant claims the situation is under control! If something were in control it would not be going out of control, would it? To the average Goan, it defies common sense to say that the situation is under control when it is getting worse and worse. It is like building a bamboo barrage to check a river in flood and claiming success in restraining it, though we can see the furious river is leaping over the barrier. Goa had recorded just seven cases between March 25 and May 3. By July 4 it had recorded nearly 1,700 cases, of which over 500 cases were detected in less than a week since June 29. The state has also recorded 825 recoveries, but at the same time it has also seen seven precious lives lost.

Going by the higher and higher spikes in the number of COVID-19 cases, it can be seen that the state government’s standard operating procedures (SOPs) for fighting the spread of the coronavirus might have been partially effective but certainly not been wholly effective. The government says its SOPs are ‘dynamic’, in the sense that they are modified, altered, improved and relaxed and tightened according to the circumstances. However, doubts are easy to arise in the minds of the people that if the SOPs were so quick to smell the beast and kill it, no matter where, when and with what force it surfaces, the situation would have really been in control. A good general might not win all battles, but he must win most of them in order to deserve the glory of a good general. Nobody expects the generals of the state government drawn from general administration and health fighting the war against the coronavirus to make it lick dust, but at least they should hold it in siege in the areas it has captured and stop it from annexing newer and newer territories.  

After denying for over a month about prevalence of community transmission, Sawant accepted it on June 26, only to deny it a few days later. He said his officials told him there was no community transmission. He did not say which officials had earlier told him there was community transmission. Sawant’s admission and denial of community transmission was nothing but wordplay. As the Chief Minister he should be making truthful statements, statements which people can rely upon. There is no point in patting oneself for the ‘good work’ of ‘restricting’ the virus to ‘local transmission’, because people can see it is no more local transmission. There are cases sprouting everywhere like poisonous weeds.

SOPs alone would not help. The state has to quickly build up its human, health, transport and other resources too. The state government claims testing in the state was the highest in the country and the recovery was also high. Why do results still take time to come if the testing is highest? A COVID-19 patient died before his test result could come. There is a need to expedite the testing process. There are allegations that the testing facility at the Goa Medical College Hospital is not working to its full capacity. Delay in testing and getting results could lead to unsuspecting people being infected by the people who await their test results. The recovery rate in Goa is around 50 per cent as compared to over 60 per cent nationwide. The state government claims that they are distributing immunity boosters to common people. However,  the state government’s decision to distribute Arsenicum Album 30, a homeopathic drug approved by the AYUSH ministry, to every household in Goa is questionable as its effectiveness in fighting the virus has not been proven.

An increasing number of COVID warriors, including paramedical staff and policemen, have been infected by the virus. The government must provide them special equipment and care to the warriors, so they remain safe. We have a shortage of ambulances. Why cannot we have an adequate number of ambulances? There has been a delay in arranging hospitalisation of some persons whose tests came positive. They were asked to stay at home until the beds were available. Such a situation cannot be said to be under control.

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