The number of COVID-19 cases in Goa rose overnight to touch 35 on Monday, even as the State ramped up testing to cover all those entering its borders by rail or road. Of these, 20 came to Goa by train and the rest by road. Only two of the 35 patients are symptomatic.
Health Minister Vishwajit Rane said 13 people who had arrived by train from the Mumbai Metropolitan Region had tested positive. Another woman, who had arrived by road on Sunday, also tested positive along with an industrial worker associated with the Goa State Industries Association, who was under quarantine. “The results of a few samples sent to the virology lab are awaited,” Mr. Rane said.
Goa has gone from zero to 35 cases in five days. Between April 3 and May 13, the tourist State did not report a single case. Prior to April 3, Goa had seven cases all of whom are since cured.
Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, who called for a meeting of all ruling party MLAs on Monday evening, said the special train from New Delhi will no longer halt in the State. Three trains have been halting at Goa since May 13. “Only the train from Hazrat Nizamuddin in Delhi, which did not have any positive cases, will continue,” he said.
Mr. Sawant said Goa is the only State in the country testing every entrant. “Because of such an aggressive approach, we have managed to detect COVID-19 cases at the entry point, with no possibility of community transmission. We will continue to be vigilant with our strategy to fight this pandemic,” he said.
However, Opposition parties criticised the government’s handling of the crisis. Leader of Opposition Digambar Kamat said, “It is shocking to see reports of our own elderly Goan travellers being kept at Fatorda stadium and awaiting test reports without food, water and safety gear. This is disturbing. I demand immediate intervention of the CM to ensure that this is not repeated again.”
Rohan Khaunte, Independent MLA from Porvorim and former minister, said the trains from Delhi were carrying a lot of non-Goans who had been granted permission to travel by the State. Mr. Khaunte said hotels and guest houses in Goa had accepted bookings for May 20 and 21 from people arriving in the State.
“Contamination has begun in Goa. I suspect that there are many carriers already in the State who have gone untested and the results of which will be seen in a few weeks,” Mr. Khaunte said.
Former deputy chief minister Vijai Sardesai said the trains were bringing back not just Goans but everyone. People with connections to the high and mighty in Delhi’s Aam Aadmi Party are also getting permission to travel to the State, he said. “Some are sneaking in and enjoying Goa. Cancelling the halt in Goa of one train alone won’t help,” Mr. Sardesai said.
The opposition leader also demanded the postponement of the board examinations for Classes X and XII. “With rising cases, the Goa government’s failure to understand the core issues stands exposed. Who will take the blame if community transmission happens during examinations?” he asked.