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Thursday, June 24, 2021

HC to Goa: Do not allow entry without Covid negative report from May 10

The court also said, “…we see no justification in the State of Goa not insisting upon a negativity certificate from persons who seek entry into Goa at this crucial juncture when reports indicate that the positivity rate in Goa is as high as 52%.”

Written by MAYURA JANWALKAR | Panaji |
Updated: May 7, 2021 7:44:53 am
The court also asked the state government to file an affidavit detailing the steps it had taken for augmentation of the medical infrastructure by March 10.

THE HIGH Court of Bombay at Goa on Thursday directed the state government to ensure that no one is allowed to enter the state without a Covid-19 negative certificate from May 10 onwards.

The interim order was passed on Thursday when the division bench of Justice M S Sonak and Justice M S Jawalkar was hearing a bunch of petitions urging the court to direct the state government to take steps to tackle the rising number of Covid-19 cases in the state including enforcing a lockdown, testing those arriving in the state and making information regarding hospital bed availability accessible online.

The court also said, “…we see no justification in the State of Goa not insisting upon a negativity certificate from persons who seek entry into Goa at this crucial juncture when reports indicate that the positivity rate in Goa is as high as 52%.” This, the court said, should be effected from May 10 so that travellers in transit are not inconvenienced.

Advocate General Devidas Pangam told the court that insisting on a negative test report would affect the supply of essential services for which Goa relies on its neighbouring states of Maharashtra and Karnataka. He told the court that the state’s workforce, including that in the health sector, came into the state from the border district of Sindhudurg in Maharashtra and this could affect their entry into the state.

He said that while Maharashtra had demanded such a negative test report from those arriving from Goa, Delhi had made it mandatory for those arriving from Maharashtra.

The court while acknowledging that there could be logistical problems said that this should not prevent the state from formulating a protocol so that entry of essential supply vehicles and essential workers is not affected by ensuring testing facilities at borders or entry points.

“Based on this unrestricted entry, Goa is touted as one of the few tourist destinations where all is well. This is neither fair to the populace in Goa already suffering from the overstretched medical infrastructure nor to the unsuspecting tourists who have to very often avail of the overstretched facilities at a great price. This is not a case of sealing the borders. This is only a case where steps are taken to ensure that the persons who are entering into Goa are not already tested as Covid positive so that they do not contribute to the spread of the epidemic and at the same time are cared for better in their state.”

The PILs were filed by the South Goa Advocates Association, activists Armando Gonsalves, Shruti Chaturvedi and Roshan Mathias. A letter petition was also filed by the Vice-President of the Goa Forward Party Durgadas Kamat.

The court also asked the state government to file an affidavit detailing the steps it had taken for augmentation of the medical infrastructure by March 10. “The affidavit to also indicate whether there is any thought process on the issue of lockdown, now that the situation is spiralling out of control,” the court said in its order.

Gonsalves’s lawyer Akash Rebello told the court that the Goa government’s website had stopped giving information on hospital beds since May 2. The court then directed the state administration to make the website operational immediately. “Further, this website is to indicate not only the number of beds available in real-time but also the type of beds (oxygen, ICU, ventilator), which are available so that the patients have a clear picture as to the hospitals in which they can seek admission,” it said.

It also took a serious note of a statement issued by the Goa Association of Resident Doctors on May 1 regarding attacks on doctors and health workers by relatives of patients.

“…a message must go out loud and clear that there will be zero tolerance for any form of physical or verbal violence against healthcare professionals…,” the court said and asked the government to deploy police officers in hospitals and wards round the clock.

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