Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant early Tuesday spoke of a fresh obstacle in Goa’s Covid-19 response with the newly inaugurated virology laboratory “malfunctioning”, and 55 suspected COVID-19 samples sent to Pune’s National Institute of Virology for tests. Trial tests were on at the laboratory Sunday, with the laboratory slated to begin tests Monday. The laboratory has been certified functional by the Indian Council for Medical Research.
An hour after Sawan’s statement, Health Minister Viswajit Rane, however, said the “laboratory was fully functional” with four tests having taken place. They all tested negative, he added.
During his briefing, CM Sawant had said, “A technical issue developed in the lab. We are getting experts from other parts of Goa to resolve it.” For now, Goa has 200 COVID-19 test kits available with it, but with Monday’s developments they will have to continue sending it to Pune, Sawant said.
Rane tweeted, “Briefed the CM on functioning of virology lab after my visit at GMC today evening. The lab is fully functional, with four reports being tested negative & 2 reports are expected to come by 11PM, tonight.”
According to Rane, the backlog was sent to Pune till the laboratory begins functioning fully. “We are looking for 25 to 30 tests a day.”
Meanwhile, the government also announced that from this week, cautionary posters will be plastered outside home-quarantines. According to officials at the secretariat, the need was felt with helplines being flooded with calls of those with quarantine stamps on their hands seen roaming around.
On Monday, a video went viral which showed two families having a heated argument with the family with home-quarantine stamps refusing to stay at home. At several places, with food and groceries not reaching, those asked to stay at home kept stepping out.
“People have to be aware. Other states have already taken that decision. There is no stigma because of home quarantine. It is for them, their family and the people of Goa,” the Chief Minister said.
Another big issue that Goa faces is 7,000 to 8,000 Goan sailors who are spread across the world and want to return as they remain stranded at different ports or in ships across waters. The Goa government, Sawant said, is in touch with Union Home Minister Amit Shah to work out a way to bring them back. He also said with such huge numbers the other concern is also of quarantine facilities for the returning sailors.
“Seafarers is one of the biggest issues. I am concerned about them. There are around 7,000 to 8,000 Goan sailors abroad. I spoke to the Home Minister about how to get them back and where to quarantine them,” Sawant said. With the arrival of all international flights suspended in the country, their transit looks difficult for now.
“Till now, a decision has not been made. Many parents, guardians, they are writing to me and sending me messages on WhatsApp, but we cannot write to everyone personally,” the Chief Minister said.
On those who tested positive, CM Sawant said he was briefed by the hospital team that their health is “stable and improving”. He also asked private hospitals to keep their OPDs open to ensure the burden on public hospitals is less as they are being used as quarantine and Covid-19 facilities.