Goa revises SOPs for arrivals, Covid-19 test no longer mandatory

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Goa has decided to amend its SOPs and do away with mandatory testing of anyone entering it following increased movement of people to and from the state, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said on Monday.

Sawant, who had a series of meetings throughout the day, said that it was becoming increasingly difficult to test all persons given the increasing numbers which have created a backlog of test reports.

“Almost 2,500 test results are pending. We are conducting 1,500 to 2,000 tests per day which will continue, but we have to change the standard operating procedure for arrivals,” Sawant said.

“Persons entering the state can opt for 14-days home quarantine and their movements will be monitored through the local representatives so that they do not mingle during the period. People can also opt for a paid quarantine if they do not wish to go home or the third option for those who are coming to the state only for a few days and do not wish to quarantine themselves is to take a swab test by paying Rs 2,000,” Sawant said.

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Under the revised protocol all persons will be scanned upon entry and will have to walk through thermal scanners that will be set up at airports, railway stations and road check points and if found symptomatic will be compulsorily tested, Sawant said.

The Goa government had made testing compulsory for all persons entering the state including those who arrived by air, rail and road. However, with the further relaxation on movement as part of the Unlock 1 guidelines, the resumption of regular train services with several stops within the states has made it logistically impossible to continue with the compulsory testing.

The new protocol will come into effect from June 10.

The opposition has accused the government of going down a ‘dangerous path’ that could come at a huge cost to lives.

“The State government has thrown its hands in the air and is going for herd immunity. Herd immunity can either be achieved by injection (vaccination) or infection. This will come at a huge cost to Goa. The vulnerable people will be very badly affected,” said Vijai Sardesai, leader of the Goa Forward Party.

“The major proponents of the herd immunity theory have suffered a lot. Boris Johnson in the UK himself got infected and 42,000 people have died. Bolsonaro in Brazil who dismissed the virus has seen 36,000 deaths. The man who was saying to make America great again has seen more than a lakh deaths in the USA. This is a rightist government that doesn’t care for the people,” Sardesai said

Goa’s Covid-19 tally went up to 330 on Monday with 30 new cases. There are now 263 active cases, most of which are linked to the state’s lone containment zone at Mangor Hill. After a relatively lengthy period with no new cases, Goa began to witness a rise in the number of positive cases no sooner special trains services commenced allowing for interstate travel.

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