Eight more Omicron cases found in Goa, tally now 19; positivity rate reaches 18 per cent


PANAJI:  Goa on Wednesday reported eight new cases of the Omicron variant of coronavirus and five of the patients have no recent travel history, Health Minister Vishwajit Rane said.

With this, the number of Omicron cases in the coastal state has gone up to 19.

Rane tweeted, “8 Genome sequence reports tested positive as confirmed by NIV Pune, bringing the (Omicron) count to 19.3- travel history from UK, 5- no travel history. These 5 from Goa, i.e.Margao, Bardez, Chicalim, and Canacona.”

The first case of Omicron was detected in Goa on December 28, 2021, when an eight-year-old boy from the UK had tested positive for the highly contagious strain of SARS-CoV-2 discovered in South Africa late last year.

Goa continued to reel under a COVID-19 surge at it reported 1,002 new cases on Wednesday, registering a positivity rate of 17.72 per cent, while one more patient succumbed to the infection, a senior official said.

As per a bulletin issued by the state health department, Goa reported 1,002 coronavirus positive cases in the last 24 hours, taking the overall tally to 1,83,795.

On Tuesday, the tiny coastal state had registered 592 cases of COVID-19.

Goa’s positivity rate stood at 17.72 as against 13.

89 per cent on Tuesday, causing concern amongst authorities in the state, where assembly polls are due in a few months.

The rate indicates the percentage of people who test positive for the virus of those overall who have been tested.

With one more death during the day, Goa’s COVID-19 fatality count rose to 3,526, the department said.

The number of recovered cases in the state rose to 1,76,551 after 46 patients were discharged from hospitals in the last 24 hours, it added.

Due to a wide gap between new and recovered cases, the state’s active tally soared to 3,718, the official said.

“With 5,653 new tests, the number of tests conducted in the state has gone up to 16,47,005,” he added.

The state government has announced closure of schools and colleges for in-person classes and imposed a slew of other measures at public places to stem the spread of the infection.

Goa’s COVID-19 figures are as follows: Positive cases 1,83,795, new cases 1,002, death toll 3,526, discharged 1,76,551, active cases 3,718, samples tested till date 16,47,005.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Wednesday held Goa chief minister Pramod Sawant and his cabinet colleagues responsible for a “third wave” of the coronavirus pandemic in the state, saying they refused to act in time and impose curbs when the situation demanded.

The coastal state is currently witnessing a surge in COVID-19 cases and a high positivity rate.

AAP Goa convener Rahul Mhambrey said the BJP chief minister and his cabinet colleagues were responsible for the “third wave” of the infection in the state.

“The cabinet refused to impose curbs when they there was a need for them. There was a time when daily coronavirus cases were low and the situation could have been controlled,” Mhambrey told reporters in Panaji.

He said the chief minister refused permission to the AAP to hold ‘Tiranga Yatra’ in the poll-bound state, but he himself recently addressed two rallies.

Mhambrey said the permission was denied at the last minute by the administration, which cited the recent spike in COVID-19 infections.

“Lame excuses were given to deny permission for the yatra. Coincidentally, the chief minister himself addressed two public meetings a day earlier (when nod for yatra was denied). It seems COVID-19 does not impact their (BJP) rallies,” the AAP leader remarked.

The Karnataka government on Wednesday ordered special surveillance measures, including a negative RT-PCR, for people coming to the State from Goa in view of the rise in COVID-19 there.

In its order, the government said the negative RT-PCR certificate not older than 72 hours must be produced by the passengers travelling on flight, bus, train or personal transport to Karnataka.

This is also applicable for passengers boarding connecting flights from Goa, the order said.

It further said the airlines concerned should issue boarding passes only to the passengers carrying the negative certificate.

Similarly, Railway authorities should see to it that all passengers travelling by trains from Goa to Karnataka carried the certificates.

For all the passengers travelling by bus originating from Goa, the bus conductors concerned should be directed to ensure passengers possess the negative RT-PCR report, the order said.

Deputy Commissioners of Belgavi and Uttar Kannada districts, which border Goa, have been directed to set up check-posts and deploy necessary staff to ensure that all the vehicles entering Karnataka are checked.

Regular travellers from Goa to Karnataka would have to have the negative report.

These restrictions would not be applicable to the constitutional functionaries, healthcare professionals, and children below five years.

A Karnataka Minister on Wednesday said there is no proposal before the State government to seal the border anywhere in the State, including Maharashtra.

“Those coming to the State will undergo COVID-19 test and they will be under observation. There is restriction on the infection persons. Otherwise, there is no restriction on business activities and commuting,” Karnataka Higher Education Minister Dr C N Ashwath Narayan told reporters here.

“There is no proposal before the government to shut down the border,” he added.

The Minister explained that the State government has imposed restrictions for a fortnight as a precautionary measure to ensure that things do not go out of hand.

Stating that the objective behind restrictions is to avoid lockdown, Narayan said the occupancy at pubs, bars, theatres and malls has been restricted to 50 per cent of the capacity.

He said the objective of the closure of schools in Bengaluru was to bring the COVID-19 situation under control.

Along with that, vaccination of children from 15 to 18 years has been started, he added.

Narayan said the students and staff of the medical colleges are being given the booster dose.

“We are prepared to deal with the situation. We will review the situation after 10 days,” he added.