Surge in Goa’s Covid-19 cases traced to infection at this health centre
Amid rise in coronavirus cases across Goa, it has emerged that a health establishment - the Urban Health Centre (UHC) in Vasco da Gama, the state’s port town - is the single source for a bulk of cases in the state.
Health authorities first realised they had a problem on their hands when staff members at this health centre began testing positive. It is believed that these health workers were deployed to work in Mangor Hill, a congested locality in the port town of Vasco da Gama, before it was declared as Goa’s first Covid-19 containment zone.
Testing within the containment zone was stopped after the workers were found positive and a new team was brought in.
Data released by the government has revealed that 24 out of the 34 staff working at the Urban Health Centre in Vasco tested Covid-19 positive which forced the shuttering of the centre. Tests on their family members have also come out positive. To protect themselves, the villages where they come from have gone into ‘self-lockdowns’.
A security guard who worked at the UHC in Vasco, in turn, infected three members of his family and five others in the neighbourhood, forcing the authorities to demarcate a zone of restricted movement.
At Morlem in Sattari, a village on the eastern frontier with Karnataka and deep within the Western Ghats, 15 persons have contracted the disease that can all be traced to a couple of workers from the village who were posted at the said health centre.
It’s a similar story for other villages in Goa - Guleli, Melaulim, Usgao - as well as Canacona in South Goa where cases were found after primary contact of the health workers was tested and found positive.
The Health Authorities admitted to the lapse that led to the spread.
“Various active cases are of people from people who are working at the Urban Health Centre in Vasco but were from various parts of Goa. Now all of them (health workers) are being put up in hotels and residencies. We are equally concerned as from them it has gone to others across the state. We are trying to mitigate that and see that it doesn’t happen again,” Health Secretary Nila Mohanan said.
The health workers were earlier being given the option of returning home at the end of their shifts, a practice that has now been stopped.
The statement comes even as more staff members linked to the state health department have tested positive. On Saturday the Health Department conducted tests on all security guards at the Goa Medical College and Hospital, the state’s premier health facility, after a lone security guard working at the facility tested positive, sparking fears that the state’s main hospital too may be carrying the infection.
“With reference to a security guard working at GMC who was tested positive, we have conducted swab testing for all the guards and their family members. We have placed them under quarantine until their results are out, as per my discussion with the Collector,” Health Minister Vishwajit Rane said.
“I have also written to Secretary Health instructing that we conduct mass/random testing in all the areas where we have a positive case. Our team will ensure such testing is carried out. If required, based on the number of cases, we will declare the said ward as a containment zone,” Rane added.
Cases have also sprung up in the quarters of the Employee State Insurance (ESI) Corporation which is in the vicinity of the ESI Hospital which is Goa’s dedicated Covid-19 Hospital.
Besides health workers, five drivers of the Kadamba Transport Corporation, the state owned bus service and four postal workers at the Vasco Post Office, have also tested positive.