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Goa reports first Omicron case as minor traveller from UK tests positive for Covid-19 variant

The state government has so far only appealed to the public to follow Covid protocols like wearing masks and maintaining social distance but not issued any additional restrictions.

Written by MAYURA JANWALKAR | Panaji |
December 27, 2021 4:43:14 pm
On Sunday, Goa reported 25 new Covid-19 cases and the active cases stand at 449. (File photo)

Goa on Monday reported the first case of Omicron as an eight-year-old boy who came from the United Kingdom (UK) on December 17 was tested positive for Covid-19 with the new variant. Goa Health Minister Vishwajit Rane confirmed this with a tweet on Monday afternoon.

“We will take steps as per the protocol of government of India, necessary stringent measures will be taken by the government of Goa in public interest based on the advice given by the expert committee,” he said further.

The state government has so far only appealed to the public to follow Covid protocols like wearing masks and maintaining social distance but not issued any additional restrictions.

According to the existing protocols in the state, all international travellers have to get tested on arrival and those found positive are sent for institutional quarantine. However, since the state does not have its own genome testing facility, the samples are sent to the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune and the results take up to two weeks.

On Sunday, Goa reported 25 new Covid-19 cases and the active cases stand at 449.

Earlier, On Friday, Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said that while no restrictions had been imposed in the state as yet, people need to follow Covid-appropriate behaviour.

The same day, Sawant held a high-level meeting of the Covid task force amid mounting concerns over the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

“We are very concerned. The (test) positivity rate has gone up from 1.8 per cent to 3.5 per cent which is a serious thing. All the people of Goa and visiting tourists need to take precautions. No one should go to crowded places without masks, and avoid crowding in public places. As much as possible, functions should be held in the open air and use of AC halls should be minimised, masks must be used at all times,” Sawant had said.

However, beaches and restaurants in the state are witnessing huge crowds as this is the peak of the tourist season in Goa. Celebrations over the Christmas-New Year period are in full swing and tourism in the state is getting the much-needed boost after the Covid-induced lull.

Political rallies with thousands in attendance are being held and expected to multiply as assembly polls are scheduled to be held in February.

Sawant had said that among 28 suspected Covid-19 cases, nine had been diagnosed with the Delta variant after genome sequencing. And now, two days later, Goa has its first case of Omicron.

While many states, including neighbouring Maharashtra, have imposed fresh curbs, Sawant said that no additional restrictions would be imposed at least until next week.

“Everyone should follow Covid protocols so that we don’t have to impose a night curfew. Everyone should stay alert,” he had said.

He had said that the government would initiate the process to procure a genome testing machine that will be functional in the Goa Medical College in a month.

Sawant had also said that the government had made every attempt to stay in touch with around 3,500 foreign nationals in the state to follow up on the mandatory RT-PCR test on the eighth day of their arrival.

“But some of their phones are not reachable. So we have asked all the stakeholders including hotels hosting foreign tourists to insist that their guests get tested in the nearby primary health centres. If they are found positive, they should come to Goa Medical College for samples to be sent for genome testing” Sawant had said.

Hotels in the state’s coastal belt need to be more vigilant about this, he had said.

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