Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant chaired a meeting of the State Disaster Management Committee on Tuesday and it was widely expected that the committee would take cognizance of the huge spike in the number of cases -- fresh cases recorded on Tuesday was 387 -- and would impose some form of restrictions. Instead what we heard from the chief minister that there would be no fresh restrictions either on persons entering the State or on movement within the State save for a capping on the number of people who can attend gatherings both private and public -- which is capped at 200 for outdoor gatherings and 100 for indoor.
There is no doubt the situation in the State is going to get worse before it gets better -- the question is how worse. And if the current trajectory is anything to go by it isn’t long before our near and dear ones are going to become seriously sick. With beds already running out, God forbid a situation in which people are left to scurry from hospital to hospital searching for beds. When that happens, it will be too late and perhaps we will look back at this day and say today was the day we could have been more decisive.
The policy of continuing with no restrictions even as vaccination uptake remains low is bound to come back and haunt us. The least the government should have done is being stricter with those establishments whose staff have been found positive but whose management are continuing to insist that the others report to office.
No establishments be it casinos, schools or government offices have been ordered to shut and their staff told to work from home despite outbreaks of cases among the staff of these establishments. This is a far cry from the situation last year when, if cases were found among the staff, the entire office was shut and the staff told to isolate.
Such decisions are low impact on the overall economy but go a long way in preventing the further spread of the disease. Instead what we have is people who have symptoms being bold enough to report to office and spreading it to their colleagues perhaps emboldened by false assurances given by the government’s propaganda machinery that most cases are mild in nature.
No one is asking for a complete lockdown or for a complete sealing of the borders that could once again bring a huge economic impact for the state. Instead all the State needs is small steps that do not necessarily have a huge impact on the economy but which can go a long way in ensuring that the virus does not spread exponentially.
Goa’s enforcement of Covid-19 protocol in places where it is needed most -- fish markets, night clubs, political rallies and other indoor spaces where people gather has been very lax, instead in the open air where the virus cannot very easily spread, it is being enforced. One hopes that better sense will prevail and that we get our act together before it is too late.