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Test not must for visitors having COVID negative paper

Panaji: A day after the state announced its own standard operating procedure (SOP) that will be uniform for all domestic passengers, the government on Sunday, while making an addition to the revised norms, said that if a passenger arriving in the state carries a medical certificate declaring him/her negative for COVID-19, then the person can skip the COVID-19 testing as well as the 14-day home quarantine.

Addressing a joint press conference in Panaji with Health Minister Vishwajit Rane, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said the Goa government will accept from the passengers the COVID negative certificates that are only issued by the laboratories approved by the Indian Council of Medical Research.

“If the passenger produces a certificate declaring that he has tested negative 48 hours before his arrival in Goa, he will be allowed to go,” Sawant said.

He said the other two options before the passengers as announced by the government on Saturday would remain the same wherein the passenger can get tested for COVID-19 by paying Rs 2,000 or undergo a mandatory 14-day home quarantine.

He said all passengers on their arrival will be given written instructions which they would be asked to adhere to and if they are found violating the norms, they will be booked under Epidemic Diseases Act and taken to institutional facility for which they will have to pay the prescribed amount. Sawant said that ward members of village panchayats and councillors of municipalities will be roped in and entrusted with the responsibility of maintaining a close watch on people, who will be placed under home quarantine.

The Chief Minister said the SOP for international passengers would also remain the same as per the revised guidelines of the Ministry of Home Affairs. Expressing his helplessness to stop the influx of people into the state, Sawant said, “We had delayed the arrival of the passenger trains by requesting central government but we can’t block them for long.”

Sawant said the state government is expecting over 4,000 people to enter Goa on Monday and they will include 2,000-odd people travelling by flights, 1,000 by train and another 1,000 by road. “Even if everybody opts for COVID-19 testing, we can collect their throat swab samples and get them tested within two days,” he said. Stating that the Opposition MLAs are targeting the government ‘unnecessarily’, Sawant said the government is committed to the safety of its people and taking pro-active steps to contain, control and manage the COVID-19 pandemic in Goa.

“People should not come to Goa thinking that they will get accommodation in hotels, as we don’t have any hotel operational in the state. The returnees or the people who want to come to Goa should have either their relative or their second home here…,” Sawant said.

“Passengers visiting the state should make provision for a separate room for their stay and if they can’t then they should rent out a flat for 14-day period and self-isolate themselves as a precautionary measure for their own safety and safety of their family members,” he said.

Rane expressed satisfaction over the government accepting his suggestion to ask the passengers to produce a COVID-19 negative medical certificate. “I am satisfied with the decision of our government and we are working together for the safety of Goa and our people,” Rane said.

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