New Year celebrations jack up COVID cases in Goa; positivity rate above 10%

On Monday, 388 cases were recorded, taking the active case count to 1,671

Goa health officials now admit that heavy rush of revellers has resulted in COVID cases going up suddenly. | Representational image

The Goa government has clamped restrictions like night curfew and school closure to control the spread of COVID as the tiny state saw a steep rise in cases post-New Year celebrations.

On Monday (January 3), 388 cases were recorded with a 10% positivity rate (percentage of tests returning positive). The state now has 1,671 active cases. The prevalent variant is Delta as only one sample in Goa has tested positive for Omicron. Samples sent to the national centre for cell science (NCCS), Pune, for genome sequencing also generally arrive weeks later.

The state, meanwhile, has ordered night curfew between 11 pm and 6 am every day.

Locals had raised an alarm when tourists started thronging the popular beaches of Goa in the last week of December to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s eve. Media reports suggest the state government allowed tourists from other states without any restrictions. Health officials now admit that heavy rush of revellers has resulted in COVID cases going up suddenly.

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Local residents shared videos of rush at popular locations, warning of the threat of a COVID burst once again. On Sunday, a video of a crowded street in North Goa was widely shared on Twitter.

“This is a Royal welcome to the Covid wave. Mostly tourists,” the Twitter user, who goes by the handle @Herman_Gomes, wrote.

Also read: When will this pandemic end? Omicron clouds forecasts for endgame

The 30 second video, showing hundreds of people seen walking on road to Baga Beach, has gone viral. It was in clear violation of COVID protocol with most people not wearing masks and paying no attention to social distancing norms.

At least 2,000 people on board a ship, Cordelia Cruise, from Mumbai to Goa are suspected to be COVID positive, news agency ANI reported. The medical department conducted RT-PCR on 1,471 passengers and 595 crew members. The reports are awaited. The ship is currently docked at the Mormugao Port cruise terminal, Vasco.

Schools closed

As cases rose, schools and colleges in the state have been closed till January 26. Students of classes 8 and 9 will not go to schools till January 26. But students of classes 11 and 12 would have to attend the school to take the vaccine against COVID-19. It won’t ne compulsory for them to attend offline classes after taking the jab.

Goa government aims to inoculate all 72,000 children in 15-18 age group against COVID-19 with first dose in next four days after vaccination opens on Monday, said Goa Health Minister Vishwajit Rane.

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