Over the last 48 hours, Goa Police has been trying to trace a 21-year-old man who has tested positive for Covid-19. The only hitch: he is already a “missing person” in the Delhi police records
The mobile phone number and the local address he shared in the ‘self-declaration’ form in New Delhi and the lab test referral form at the time of testing have not helped; leading to another chain of events.
Until Wednesday, the state’s SOP required everyone to get mandatory testing done if they entered the state through rail, road and flight, with the Directorate of Health Services sending the test result through an SMS. Before boarding trains and flights the passengers were made to fill a self-declaration form confirming they are willing to be tested at the place of arrival.
If positive, the state machinery then reached the person to shift the patient to a Covid facility.
On Wednesday, when the 21-year-old’s test results came positive, the protocol was activated. The health officials found there was no such address. He had given his address as ‘Daniel Bar’ near Panjim fish market. Since then the administration has been busy in tracking the boy and the bar.
“Because there is no true identity, and he has given a very, very vague address and when we enquired into it we haven’t found this address to be a valid address,” said Health Secretary Nila Mohanan in a press meet. “…If someone knows (this person) then please come forward…inform us, we are trying to find this person.”
According to Superintendent of Police for north Goa Utkrisht Prasoon under whose office Panjim jurisdiction falls, “there were two details he had filled. One was his phone number and the other was the local address. The bar’s location was near Fish market. We found three bars there, all in one line, but nothing matching the details he has written. Besides none was named Daniel.”
According to Prasoon, his phone number was then fed into the system and it showed that “he has already been listed as ‘missing’ by Delhi Police.”
When the two state agencies engaged on the case, they found that his family lives in New Delhi and they have filed a missing person’s complaint about him on June 3.
Further probe by the two police found that he stopped using the phone the same day. “He has already sold the phone (which he listed) and made some money and left. He doesn’t have this phone on him anymore,” adds Prasoon. Since Wednesday, the Goa police with the help of New Delhi police have been busy calling “all his friends” to reach him.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, a local Goa channel identified the Covid Patient as “a person selling liquor at a tavern in Panaji market” and having sold liquor to customers. With the news panic soon shaped with the Mayor of Goa calling a hurried press.
“A person running a bar has tested positive and he has been missing,” he said at the press meet.
Madkaikar also the Commissioner of Corporation of the city of Panaji under whom the fish market and other essential markets operate has now decided to shut the entire market for four days or till the boy is found, or “till some solution is found”. Madkaidkar’s “private probe” though has “revealed that he is a Nepali boy”, a theory which the Goa police has refuted.
“So no chicken, mutton or vegetables. No fish too,” Madkaikar told The Indian Express, adding, “Look, I too did a private probe. This boy is a Nepali who works in the tavern and people say few days ago he did open the shutters. I also found some three of four of my staff regularly go to that bar and now they are denying it. The bar is owned by Goans and this boy worked there. People have seen liquor being served three days ago. I have now called the Directorate of Health Services and I want all those who went to the bar tested. In fact I have decided all 40 odd staff members should be tested.”
For now, Panjim Market which is one of the biggest wholesale market will remain shut till Monday.
With several theories out on a “missing boy”, an outsider, whose local address in Goa is a tavern, things soon reached the Goa Excise Department.
“Now that makes it important for my office to verify if there are bars selling liquor under lockdown. So we pressed our office into action. There are around 10,000 liquor licences in Goa of which 700 to 1,000 are bars or small taverns in Panjim alone. If we find the stock of any bar across Panjim having decreased from the stock inventory details we have before lockdown then we will probe further. Our officials too went to the location given and found no such bar matching the description. But now Inspectors are on field due to all these reports. We have decided to search all bars. If it’s almost proved that quantities have indeed changed, then licenses can get suspended,” said Amit Satija, Excise Commissioner, Goa who also took to Twitter to clarify the news report.
“Enquiry is still going on and in case it is found that any licensee has violated the government directions then stringent penal action will be taken as per law…” Satija tweeted.
“All we know for now is he was in a train from New Delhi. He entered Goa from outside,” concluded Mohanan at the press meet.
Goa’s total Covid count is at 417 confirmed cases of which 350 are active cases as on Thursday evening.
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