“We have taken a month to touch 100, and it will take 15 days to touch 200,” said a GMC doctor. “The pace of infection will be faster unless the government and health authorities take measures to check transmission.”
If Goa does not want a repeat of what it went through after cases started rising from June onwards last year, harsh measures are the only way forward, he said.
The state’s vaccine drive, too, has not been going ahead at full steam. After two days of good response to the mega drive this week, enthusiasm tapered off by half on the third day.
Institutional quarantine should be implemented to keep people who are likely to defy restriction under watch, or if not possible, tabs must be kept on people under home isolation. “It is high time the government initiates measures to stop mass gatherings, especially with Holi happening in a week,” he said.
While on Wednesday, CM Pramod Sawant declared the state would increase testing, as of Friday, the directorate of health services had no concrete plan to expand testing.
The GMC doctor said that Panaji and Margao are spearheading the spike, with cases also rising in Ponda, Mapusa, Vasco, Porvorim and Cansaulim.
“It is loud and clear the virus is spreading, and who is the culprit,” a top doctor said. “Visit any public place — whether a market or any other place of mass gathering — and nobody follows any norms. People wear masks below the chin. Even political leaders are not seen showing Covid appropriate behavior, and thus infections are bound to increase unless measures are taken.”
He said that lockdowns and closures are not the solution. “It was necessary when we were not prepared to handle the situation last year, when we did not have the infrastructure ready. But it is not the case now. Our focus should be on containing the spread,” he said.
The caseloads of Margao and Panaji has ranged between 90 to 110 cases for the last few days.
The doctor said that DHS is currently focussing on the vaccination programme, and that its manpower and infrastructure have been invested in inoculating people at the earliest. However, the speed at which it is happening will take several months to complete vaccinating the target population, he said.
Goa has had a steady rise in infections since March 3, but with the sharp spikes in neighbouring states and no controls at entry points, infection is likely to spread faster, experts say.
“Presently, the only people who are monitored are those who are hospitalized,” a GMC doctor said. “There is a possibility that the contacts of people who tested positive or those who are in home isolation are flouting the norms because vaccinating is underway, and it is not possible to scrupulously monitor patients that are supposedly in isolation.”
On Friday, Goa’s death toll rose to 815, with two deaths reported. A 73-year-old man from Bicholim and a 73-year-old woman from Margao succumbed to the virus at Goa Medical College.