Goa CM fears influx of infected tourists if lockdown lifted early

Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant today said that if the nationwide lock-down is lifted next week, his state would face an unwelcome situation of having to deal wtih Coronavirus-positive travelers from other parts of the country.

His comments come in the wake of the Goan government urging Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday to extend the 41-day lockdown when it ends on May 3.

Speaking to the media today, Sawant reiterated his call to extend the lockdown by “15 to 20 days”, pointing to the danger of further viral transmission.

“In nearby states Karnataka and Maharashtra, cases are increasing day by day in both Bombay and Belgaum. It is risky for us to lift the lockdown.

“If we allow people to come via the border, positive cases will come from Maharashtra, Kerala and Karnataka,” he said today.

Goa, one of the tiniest states in India with a population of just around 18 lakh, is also one of the few Coronavirus-free territories in India, and Sawant said he would like to keep it that way.

Even though his state is heavily dependent on tourism, Sawant said the center should ensure that at least for the short term, no long-distance travel should be allowed in the country, “whether by plane, train or road”.

On the other hand, he welcomed the gradual relaxation of restrictions on economic and productive activities such as farming, operation of factories and small shops.

Goa has had a lucky escape this season as the state, despite seeing millions of tourists a year, reported very very few Coronavirus cases, even as other tourist hotspots such as Agra, Rajasthan and Kerala were, and continue to be, the worst affected by the Coronavirus outbreak with hundreds of cases.

Goa, in contrast, saw just seven cases of COVID-19, all of whom have since recovered.

Sawant said a total of around 4,500 people were found to have come into contact with the seven confirmed cases directly or indirectly.

Out of these, about 1,700 have so far been tested for the virus, he said. He also indicated that the chances of finding the virus among the remaining people on the list — who are one step removed from those already tested in terms of contact with the confirmed cases — are remote.

The chief minister, however, toned down the earlier stand of his government that the state should be ready to go without tourism, and the money it brings, for the next six months due to Coronavirus. These months constitute the lean season in Goa’s tourism calendar.

Instead, said Sawant today, his state would be implement policies that are in sync with national policies as far as inter-state travel and tourism was concerned.