With the Covid-19 positivity rate jumping to 26.43 per cent, the Goa government will soon issue a notification to close down schools and colleges in the state and also impose night curfew, the state’s Covid task force decided on Monday.
Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said: “We held a meeting of the task force (on Covid-19). We are thinking over a night curfew. There will be restrictions on schools. A detailed note will follow.”
The state recorded 631 new cases on Monday, taking the total number of active cases to 2,240, the first time since July. Of the new cases, five were hospitalised. There were no deaths.
On Sunday, the state had recorded COVID-19 positivity rate of 10.76 per cent.
Health Minister Vishwajit Rane said samples sent to the National Institute of Virology, Pune, had confirmed four more cases of the Omicron variant in the state. “One patient is from within the state, with no travel history, indicating indigenous spread which needs to be further examined. I will be discussing with the CM on the further course of action,” Rane said in a social media post.
An eight-year-old boy who traveled to Goa from the UK on December 17 was, on December 27, confirmed to be the first of the Omicron variant in Goa.
Meanwhile, sixty-six (66) persons on board a tourist cruise ship that arrived in Goa from Mumbai on Sunday have tested positive for Covid-19. None of the passengers was allowed entry into the state without testing after one crew member was found positive on Sunday. Officials said the government and the Mormugao Port Trust (MPT) authorities will take a decision on allowing those passengers whose test reports are negative to enter the state.
“Out of the 2,000 samples tested from the Cordelia cruise ship, 66 are positive for Covid-19. Respective collectors and MPT staff have been informed of the same. The authorities will decide whether to allow disembarking of passengers from the ship. With Goa being a tourist state, it is a matter of great concern,” Rane said.
Dr Shekhar Salkar, a member of the Covid task force, said it was decided during the meeting of the task force that schools will remain shut for students of Classes 8 to 12 till January 26. However, he said students of Classes 11 and 12 will have to come to school on the day they have to take the Covid vaccine.
The government rolled out its vaccination programme for the 15-18 age group on Monday, administering the first dose of the vaccine to 5,096 children.
While a government order was awaited, Salkar also said the night curfew is likely to be imposed between 11 pm and 6 am starting Tuesday.
Goa has seen a steady rise in Covid-19 numbers since Christmas, when the positivity rate was 2.19 per cent. The week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve saw active cases jump from 461 to 1,046 on December 31.
However, with no curbs on year-end revelry, tourists thronged the popular Baga-Calangute coastal belt. On New Year’s Eve, the total number of active cases crossed 1,000 for the first time since August 17.
Salkar said while the number of Covid-19 cases was on the rise in Goa “like elsewhere in the country”, the number of hospitalisations was not high and the “situation was under control”. He said the next week will be crucial for the government to monitor the rise in cases and the symptoms in patients to decide the future course of action.