Goa steps up monitoring along Maharashtra border as Covid 'Delta Plus' variant raises alarm

PANAJI: The Goa government has increased surveillance along the border adjoining Maharashtra in the wake of the neighbouring state reporting cases of the COVID-19 ‘Delta Plus’ variant, which is considered highly infectious.

Chief Minister Pramod Sawant told reporters on Wednesday that cases of ‘Delta’ variant of COVID-19 have been detected in Goa, but so far there is not a single case of the ‘Delta Plus’ variant in the coastal state.

Since the ‘Delta Plus’ variant has been found in Maharashtra’s Sindhudurg district adjoining Goa, “surveillance along the border has been stepped up”, the CM said.

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On Monday, Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope on Monday said 21 cases of the ‘Delta Plus’ variant have been found in the state so far, including nine in Ratnagiri, seven in Jalgaon, two in Mumbai, and one case each in Palghar, Thane and Sindhudurg districts.

Sawant said Goa has so far reported 26 cases of the COVID-19 ‘Delta’ variant, which were detected in samples sent to a laboratory in Pune.

He said the Goa Medical College and Hospital (located near Panaji), North Goa District Hospital (Mapusa), South Goa District Hospital (Margao) and Victor Hospital (Margao) have been collecting COVID-19 patients’ samples which are sent to the Pune-based lab to check for variants of the virus.

Sawant also said his government has allowed private laboratories to set up their facilities along the Goa-Maharashtra border.

“If we find any suspect (entering Goa with the coronavirus infection), he is isolated and tested before being allowed to move around in the state,” Sawant said.

On Tuesday, Goa reported 303 new COVID-19 cases that took its tally of infections to 1,64,957, while 11 fatalities pushed the death toll to 3,008, as per the state health department.