Villages in Goa take to self-imposed Covid lockdowns | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Villages in Goa take to self-imposed Covid lockdowns

ByGerard de Souza
Jun 10, 2020 12:15 AM IST

PANAJI : As the number of coronavirus cases rise in Goa, villagers in the state have been voluntarily locking themselves up at home and ensuring a complete shutdown of normal activity to ride out the coronavirus pandemic.

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It began on June 6, when a health worker from Guleli in Sattari, a village located deep in the Western Ghats that line Goa’s eastern fringe with Karnataka, tested positive for the virus. People of the village quickly shut down the few shops in the village and quarantined themselves within their homes. The worker was posted on duty in the port town of Vasco da Gama which has since become a hotspot for the virus.

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Faster than the disease, the practice soon spread to neighbouring villages like Morlem after cases were found there too and culminated in Keri, a village that lies along the border with Karnataka, self-declaring a four-day shutdown to “break the chain” of the virus. On Tuesday, another village Usgao in the same taluka declared a two-day shutdown.

“Yesterday the Keri youth and villagers got together and decided that since the coronavirus has reached close to home. The youth have come forward and called the each panchayat member and explained the plan. This is for our own good and is our own decision,” Laxman Gauns, a panchayat member from the Keri village, said.

“We have to break the chain of the virus. So we will remain shut for four days. This is not a government directive or anything, but it is our own choice and decision. Those who work outside the village, they should take their own precautions. We cannot take the law into our own hands and they should make their own choice,” he said.

“It’s not as if the virus will disappear within four days but we want to do what we can and also spread awareness,” he added.

Cases emerge in rural Goa after health workers -- mainly those associated with the Vasco Urban Health Centre began testing positive. To date 15 health workers have tested positive and five family members related to the health workers also tested positive. Seven hail from the Morlem village neighbouring Keri and one from Guleli.

A large number of persons from the villages of Sattari taluka are employed in the health department owing to the ‘benevolence’ of health minister Vishwajit Rane who favours jobs to people from the constituency he represents.

Rane asked people to remain calm and promised to ramp up testing. “I have instructed the health officials to conduct tests in these areas to reduce the risk of community spread. I appeal to the people to remain calm as we are closely monitoring the situation in Sattari and Usgao,” he said.

Aware of the fear that was building in the state, the Goa government deployed the director of health to brief the media and assure the state that Covid19 is “just like any other respiratory disease.”

“There is a lot of fear that has spread and people are scared and they are scaring others too. It is just like any other respiratory disease and if we can take precautions, there will be nothing to worry. Also, as per our numbers, only 5% of patients show symptoms the rest 95% are asymptomatic. We also have a zero mortality rate and a 100% cure rate,” Dr José de Sa, director of health services, said.

“There are other communicable diseases in the community, we don’t have to fear. But have to take all precautions and for high risk persons those who are above 65, children less than five and those who have comorbid condition and pregnant women, have to be extra careful. Wear a mask hand washing and routinely follow all precautions,” he said.

Propagating the fear were legislators who insisted that the Vasco town in Goa was a fit case for a complete lockdown. While the government has refused to impose a lockdown on the town, traders and sellers voluntarily decided to shut shop citing their own safety.

On Tuesday, Goa reported 29 new cases, taking the total to 359, of which 292 cases are active.

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