Goa’s only COVID-19 patient tests negative

Panaji: Goa may be one test away from being declared a green zone — a central government classification for zero Covid-19 cases — but the opposition has accused the state government of undue haste to get the ‘coronavirus free’ endorsement, without enough scientific validation.

According to Health Minister Vishwajit Rane, the lone Covid-19 patient, quarantined at a government facility in South Goa, tested negative on Saturday. He will be tested again within 24 hours, as recommended by the central government guidelines. It will determine whether the state will enter the green zone.

“If he tests negative again, we will be in a position to discharge him and monitor him in quarantine for another 14 days,” Rane said.

The South Goa district has been declared a green zone by the central government, with the state’s only Covid-19 patient hailing from the North Goa district.

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According to Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, the state has not “recorded a single new Covid-19 positive case” since April 3.

The state had seven Covid-19 patients, six of whom have been discharged from government isolation facilities to home quarantine, after they tested negative. Of the seven cases, six had foreign travel history.

Two persons, who had Covid-19 like symptoms and were admitted to quarantine centres, died due to other health issues, according to the Health Ministry.

The Opposition has, however, raised questions over the government’s haste to get the state declared Covid-19 free, alleging flaws in the coronavirus testing system.

“The Chief Minister’s assessment is not only wrong, but also dangerous for the safety of Goans in view of the disclosure by Sawant himself that the recent house survey revealed 30,000 people with respiratory (ailment) symptoms,” said Vijai Sardesai, the Goa Forward party president.

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The survey Sardesai referred to was a community outreach drive that reached out to over 500,000 people to collate information about possible cases of patients with influenza-like symptoms or respiratory ailments.

The government should declare Goa Covid-19 free only after enough testing as per the scientific standards mandated and acceptable to experts, Sardesai said.

The state has over 1,000 people in quarantine at homes and official facilities. It’s also expecting the phased arrival of more than 8,000 seafarers, who are in quarantine onboard ships and different ports-of-call across the world, over the next few months.

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