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Goa CM says no restrictions amid Christmas, year-end celebrations, advises people to follow Covid norms

 CM says 3,500 foreign tourists in Goa but no case of Omicron detected; genome testing machine in Goa next month

Written by MAYURA JANWALKAR | Panaji |
Updated: December 25, 2021 7:52:45 am
Pramod Sawant, Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, Congress, harassment, sexual harassment, Girish Chodankar, Indian Express, India news, current affairs, Indian Express News Service, Express News Service, Express News, Indian Express India NewsGoa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Friday said that while no restrictions will be imposed in the state yet, people were advised to follow Covid-appropriate behavior. (File)

Amid rising test positivity rate in peak tourist season, Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Friday said that while no restrictions will be imposed in the state yet, people were advised to follow Covid-appropriate behavior. Sawant headed a high-level meeting of the Covid task force on Friday evening over rising concerns over the highly-transmissible Omicron variant. He said that 3,500 foreign tourists were in Goa but so far, not a single case of Omicron has been detected.

“Concerned over this (Omicron), other states have imposed night curfews and other things. I only want to say that we too will issue the advisory for the general public by Monday. We are very concerned. The positivity rate has gone up from 1.8 percent 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 a crowded place without mask, and avoid crowding in public places. As much as possible, functions should be held in open air and use of AC halls should be minimised, masks must be used at all times,” Sawant said.

“There were 28 suspected cases, the samples for which were sent for genome testing to NIV (National Institute of Virology) in Pune. Of these, eight samples were positive for the Delta virus and results in 19 cases are awaited,” Sawant said.

Celebrations over the Christmas-New Year period are on in full swing and tourism in the state is getting the much-needed boost. While states including neighbouring Maharashtra have imposed fresh curbs in the wake of the Omicron variant, Sawant said that no fresh restrictions were being imposed on the public at least until next week.

“In Goa, Christmas and December 31, are celebrated with much enthusiasm. From December 25 to January 1,  Christmas is widely celebrated in Goa. But with celebrations, precautions are also very important. I expect that everyone will take precautions,” said Sawant.

“Amid celebrations, we have not imposed any restrictions but Covid protocols need to be followed so that we can ensure that the Omicron virus is not activated in Goa.” He said, “Everyone should follow Covid protocols so that we don’t have to impose a night curfew. Everyone should stay alert.”

While samples for genome testing have been sent to Pune, he said that the test reports take upto 20 days to arrive. To cut this delay, he said, the state government will initiate the process to procure a genome testing machine that will be functional in the GMC in a month.

He said that the government had made every attempt to stay in touch with 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,” said Sawant.

He said that hotels in the state’s coastal belt need to be more vigilant about this.

An advisory to this effect will be issued by the state health and tourism departments on December 27, Sawant stated. On Friday, there were 453 active cases of Covid-19 in Goa, of which 67 were new, while no Covid deaths were reported.

 

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