Goa was classified as a Green Zone by the Centre on Friday. The state has zero Covid-19 cases today, with the last one being reported on 3 April. The Daily Guardian spoke to Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on the pandemic and the state’s swift response.
Q. What efforts went into making Goa a Covid-free state?
A. We started a door-to-door testing campaign and those found positive were given immediate treatment in hospitals. Also, we immediately increased our testing radius to friends, family and neighbourhood of those tested positive. We were also very prompt in sealing our borders in March itself, and implementing social distancing procedures. The state was also prompt in creating isolation wards and fever clinics. With our administrative staff and medical fraternity working day and night we were able to achieve a Covid-free state in 20 days.
Q. What about the migrant workers stuck in Goa? What is the state government’s policy to send them back?
A. The government is providing them with accommodation and sustenance. Around 85,000 migrant workers are stuck in our state and we are doing everything we can to make sure they reach their native places. We have written to the respective states and the Central government too in this regard. As of now they are placed under our shelter.
Q. Goa has opened up saloons, wine shops and private offices. What are the precautions being taken by the government for social distancing?
A. Even though we are Covid-19 free, we are still carrying out door-to-door testing as we don’t want to take risks. We have issued specific guidelines for social distancing and I am happy that people are following them. Private offices are working with 30% staff. Wine shops are following social distancing along with saloons and grocery stores. Cinema halls and shopping malls will remain closed till further decision is taken. Hotels and restaurants have started delivering online. Goa is returning to normalcy.
Q. Any plans to open the state borders?
A. We have sealed the border for the safety of Goan people, but we are issuing inter-state permits for medical emergencies. For now, there are no plans of reopening the borders.
Q. How many foreign nationals are stuck in Goa? What are the plans to send them back?
A. The safety of foreign nationals and visitors to Goa is our priority. We have all the record of each and every visitor and we are in regular touch with their embassies. Till now around 1,000 foreign nationals have been escorted to their respective countries. We have set up a total of nine camps where foreigners and migrant workers have been isolated and are being taken care of. Several visitors are also placed in clusters in beach villages like Arambol, Morjim, etc, as well as in hotels. The Foreigners’ Regional Registration Office has also announced safe passage to foreigners stuck in Goa from their place of residence to the airport at their time of exit from the country