Better management by state health services could control the outbreak
The directorate of health services reported three coronavirus positive cases in the state. This is the first time positive cases have been detected in Goa. All the three carriers of coronavirus are male patients aged between 25 and 55 years. The announcement of detection of the coronavirus positive cases was made late in the night on Wednesday after their blood and throat swab samples were found positive for the virus by the Mumbai-based Kasturba Hospital for Infectious Diseases. The directorate of health services assured the public that the three coronavirus positive persons, who had travelled from Spain, Australia and the United States of America respectively, were stable and were being treated as per the set protocol. The detection of three coronavirus positive cases in the state should send alarm bells ringing for the people and the authorities as the disease has so far proved to be uncontrollable round the globe. The detection of three positive cases indicates that the state government and people of Goa have to be much more vigilant and active in preventing the spread in the state. Both the government and the citizens must work with sincerity to not let the infection grow through community transmission.
Surprisingly, while the government announced detection of three cases, it has not given details about their arrival by flights as was done in cases by the Karnataka government following detection of coronavirus in two people who had transited from Goa from trips overseas. The Goa government should have given details of their flight number so that people travelling by the flights by which the unfortunate people had come could voluntarily turn up at health facilities to get themselves checked and if needed quarantined. The directorate of health services needs to explain if the allegation is true that one of the three persons who tested positive was sent home on Wednesday morning from the isolation ward at the Goa Medical College and Hospital, though the report of his test had not been received. The person was allegedly brought back to the GMCH after his test showed positive.
Now that three persons have been found to be carrying the virus, the health authorities should gear up to cast a broader surveillance net for the people with whom they had direct contact. Some of such persons have been placed under quarantine, but all of them need to be located, screened and isolated till their reports come out negative or till they are cured of the disease. It remains to be seen whether the government would enforce a better regime of home quarantine. The regime that is in place has many holes which allow people with a travel history but no symptoms in the beginning to not practise home quarantine, thus putting the members of their families, friends and others in danger. The state health authorities have to send out health workers to the homes of the people with travel history to enforce proper quarantine. As the disease has spread all over the world and given its contagious nature it is necessary that strict preventive measures are adopted to curtail its further spread.
Kerala has placed a good vigilance system for maintaining information on the health parameters of persons with travel history. Goa too must do it. The infrastructure for fighting coronavirus must be improved. The virus testing lab should be operationalised at the earliest to get quicker results and take faster measures in case anyone tests positive. Now that Goa has recorded its first positive cases nearly two months after the virus entered India, the state health authorities must go on improving their equipment and manpower. People have to be serious about their perception of the threat from the virus. Maintaining social distance has become even more imperative now than it was earlier with the detection of positive cases. Though Goa has been under lockdown for almost a week now, there are people from among the elite, middle class and the working class who have been seen not caring for avoiding social contact and overcrowding. Both the government and the people must work with the single-minded purpose to keep cases of coronavirus minimal in Goa, the government by better management systems and the people by maintaining isolation.