A view of Miramar Beach. Photo: Joegoauk Goa/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Panaji: Amid an extremely high test positivity rate of over 50%, Goa went into a four-day-long “lockdown” to curb COVID-19 cases as people stayed indoors, while streets were largely bereft of vehicles in the tourist state on Friday.
The tiny coastal state, with a population of around 16 lakh, has been witnessing an unprecedented surge in COVID-19 cases during the second wave of the infection.
In a development that will worry the administration in Goa, the state reported over 50% test positivity rate on Thursday when out of 5,910 samples tested for coronavirus, 3,019 returned positive, health department data showed.
Also, 36 patients succumbed to the viral infection during the day.
The test positivity rate (TPR) is defined as the percentage of samples that return positive among the total tested.
The COVID-19-related restrictions on movement of people and non-essential activities came into force at 9 pm on Thursday and will remain applicable till 6 am on Monday (May 3).
The state government has said all essential services would be allowed to function during the period.
A senior police officer said there was hardly any traffic on roads and strict patrolling was underway to implement the restrictions, especially in urban areas.
People have cooperated and are staying inside their homes, he said.
Popular beaches, including Calangute, Baga, Anjuna, Morjim in North Goa and Colva and Palolem in South Goa – otherwise teeming with tourists during normal times – wore a deserted look.
Colva-based restaurant owner Mathew Diniz said hotel business was already down due to the pandemic and with the lockdown in force, it has come to a complete standstill.
Tourists are not visiting beaches as neighbouring Maharashtra and Karnataka (key sources of travellers), too, have imposed lockdown-like curbs, he said.
“Weekly markets will not be allowed during the lockdown. Casinos will also remain shut. However, industrial activities will be allowed to function,” chief minister Pramod Sawant had said while announcing the curbs on Wednesday.
Vaccination centres will function normally during the period, he had said.
The Indian Medical Association’s Goa unit on Friday demanded that the lockdown be continued for 15 days or at least until the positivity rate drops to 10%.
“We wish the lockdown is extended by another 15 days or more to have the ‘Break the Chain’ effect which will definitely help in making the COVID-19 graph go in a downward trend,” IMA Goa president Vinayak Buvaji said in a letter to the chief minister.
Goa has so far recorded 88,028 COVID-19 cases and 1,146 deaths. As of April 29, the tiny coastal state had 20,898 active cases.
On Wednesday, the state had reported 3,101 COVID-19 cases, while on Tuesday, the daily count was 2,110.