Times of India | 3 weeks ago | 05-06-2022 | 06:53 am
PANAJI: Health minister Vishwajit Rane said people must follow Covid-19 appropriate behaviour and that the government cannot bring in curbs. "Economic activity and health must coexist," he said. He, however, appealed to people to wear masks in crowded places. "Citizens feel that the government has to do everything," he said. "With active cases crossing 200, there is a rising trend and we all have to stay safe," Rane said in a video message to citizens. He appealed to people with flu symptoms and bodyache to get tested. State epidemiologist Dr Utkarsh Betodkar said the state's positivity rate has been above five per cent over the past four days. "During week 15 of this year, weekly cases dropped to as low as 13. But now we are seeing 176 cases a week. This is definitely a rise, a small rise. Whether it will turn into a major wave will have to be seen," he said. "If the Omicron variant continues to be dominant, the admission rate will be low and death rate under control," Betodkar said. He added that after 68 samples were recently tested at the new genomic sequencing lab at Asilo hospital, the only variant in circulation appeared to be Omicron, which was the same one present during the mild third wave. When asked whether masks should be made compulsory for schools and government establishments, director of health services Dr Geeta Kakodkar said, "Nothing should be made compulsory. It should be a social responsibility to wear masks." Regarding advice to government officials and ministers holding large functions, and whether these should be allowed at all, she said, "All are adults and can choose whether to go or not."
Panaji: After a rise in cases for three days, Goa’s daily Covid-19 count dropped from 50 to 36 on the weekend on Saturday. The fresh cases have taken the active tally is 233. A total of 679 samples were tested, with a 5.3% positivity rate. There were no hospitalisations or deaths. State epidemiologist Dr Utkarsh Betodkar said as long as the current strain continues to be Omicron, infections — although they may rise — will be mild. When asked about people not getting testedand considering Covid-19 a mere flu, director of health services Dr Geeta Kakodkar said it is one’s “social responsibility” to get tested.
Staff ReporterPanajiAfter much delay, Goa’s first genome sequencing facility has been made operational at the North Goa District Hospital (NGDH) in Mapusa.Even though the facility is yet to be certified by the INSACOG forum of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the Directorate of Health Services has claimed that it is at par with the Pune-based National Institute of Virology (NIV).The INSACOG (Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium) has been set up by the Union Health Ministry to study and monitor genome sequencing and virus variation of circulating strains of COVID-19 in India.Addressing a press conference in Panaji, state epidemiologist Dr. Utkarsh Betodkar said that from now onwards the genome analysis will be carried out in the new facility at the North Goa DistrictHospital.It is pertinent to note that the genome study ascertains the different variants of the coronavirus that are in circulation in Goa.“INSACOG certification is only for reporting under national level and for just national recognition. We have applied with them and the process is on. Our quality check is with NIV, which is a hub laboratory for our state. They have already certified it…gone through, and we have made it functional. Now onwards, samples from Goa will be tested at our new facility at NGDH,” Dr. Betodkar said. Previously, in the absence of a genome sequencing facility in the state, samples drawn from different parts of the state were sent either to the NIV orthe National Centre for Cell Science, which is also based in Pune.A medical team of the NGDH,headed by the district hospital’s senior pathologist Dr. Varsha Munj,had undergone two-day training formaking the genome sequencing facility operational at the hospital.Dr. Betodkar informed that recent reports received from the NIV Pune have revealed that Omicron sublineage BA.2 has been the dominant variant in Goa in the last four months. “During the third wave, two strains of Omicron were there in Goa –B.1.1.529and BA 2. But in the last two months only BA 2 is prevalent,” he said.
Panaji: Omicron BA.2 is the Covid-19 strain presently circulating in Goa, said state epidemiologist Dr Utkarsh Betodkar. Both Omicron BA.1 and BA.2 strains were detected in Goa during the third wave over the past four months, but the last two months have seen only the Omicron BA.2 variant which is why the severity of cases, hospital admissions and death rate have been low, he said. Goa reported 11 new cases on Tuesday, taking the active tally to 67. A total of 799 samples were tested with a case positivity rate of 1.3% Hospitalisations and deaths continued to be nil. tnn
With caronavirus induced lockdowns and restorations have been affecting tourism related activities in the state over the last two years, the 'tourist season' in the state has been rather short with barely any international tourists visiting and domestic tourists visiting for shorter trips, especially on long weekends. While the Christmas and New Year week saw a huge spike in tourists, the omicron scare the following week discouraged tourists from coming in. There was another dip in tourist footfalls after the code of conduct due to elections and restrictions on opening timings and sale of alcohol further. However, the long Holi weekend saw tourists flock to the state. Stakeholders talk about how there are fewer visitors on weekdays, and there's a spike over the weekend. Several restaurateurs from the tourist belt claim that they are seeing a higher footfall over the weekend, as compared to weekdays. "Restaurants are doing well currently. Holi weekend was great. Now with the news of the new strain and rumours about lockdowns and travel restrictions, people are living by the day, and heading to Goa for the weekends or for short trips, which is helping businesses here. But if there's another night curfew or restrictions, things will come to a standstill again," says Sandeep Sreedharan from Mahe and Elaa Cafe in Anjuna. Joshua Proenca, from Pousada by the Beach in Calangute The timing of omicron also coincided with the code of conduct, and there were not much tourists coming to Goa. Even the crowd who was here couldn't go out, which discouraged tourists from visiting. Post elections, business has been good. People aren't scared to come to Goa, because a lot of people who have already tested positive before have realised we just have to live with the virus being around. Goa is become a weekend destination and business is booming during the weekend. Goa has been getting a lot of high profile guests post the lockdown, and people's choice in alcohol has got better, and there's a crazy demand for good quality brands."
After a slump due to Omicron, hotels in Goa are seeing a spike in bookings over the weekends. "After Holi, the event and wedding season has commenced. The occupancy levels at hotels goes up to 70-80% on weekends, which is quite positive for Goa, as of now, with domestic tourists," says Nilesh Shah, president of the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa. He also mentioned that it was a very short charter season this year too. While the first charter arrived in mid-December, the Ukraine war has impacted charters. "The Russian and Ukrainian charters which form a major chunk of charters that come to the state have suspended charters due to the Ukraine war. They may commence it again. But charter season ends up early-April. The demand for charters look very encouraging and there's demand, " says Nilesh.