PANAJI: Over 2,000 passengers on a cruise liner began getting tested for Covid-19 on Sunday night after the state government didn’t let them disembark in Goa after a crew member tested positive.The ship had come from Mumbai and is docked at Mormugao cruise terminal.
“After testing passengers for Covid-19, some tested positive,” said health minister Vishwajit Rane. “We have not allowed them to dock the ship. They have a tie-up with a private hospital for Covid testing, and we’ve told them to test all passengers for Covid-19 before they leave the ship.”
However, MPT and health officials said that only one crew member (and no passengers) tested positive via an antigen test while the ship was still on its way to Goa, with 2,017 passengers aboard. The antigen result has to be confirmed via an RT-PCR test.
Pathologist Dr Eugene D’Souza, a consultant at Victor Hospital which is doing the tests, said the RT-PCR testing of all passengers started at 9.30pm.Till 11.30pm, about 500 samples were collected and results of first batch were expected by 1am. “Testing will continue throughout the night. We will complete all tests within next six-eight hours,” D’Souza told media.
As per safety protocol, the vessel informed MPT and the health department, after which the district collector’s office and the state authorities were informed.
Earlier in the day, Guruprasad Rai, deputy chairman of MPT said that they will follow all the instruction issues by the state and central governments on Covid protocol. “As per the instruction all the passengers will go for covid test and after the results they will be allowed to get down the ship,” Rai said.
“We have allowed the ship to berth, but everyone will be tested before they disembark. All the passengers are double-vaccinated. The ship doctor had tested a crew member who had a fever for a day. The vessel was kept outside the port limits while the authorities were informed,” an MPT official said.
The collector gave permission for the vessel to berth at MPT after all safety measures were put in place.
A team of healthcare professionals will board the vessel and conduct RT-PCR tests on all passengers, and only once the results are obtained will the passengers be allowed to leave, MPT said, adding that the crew member who tested positive would be taken off the ship and to a private hospital for treatment.
Rane said that every day, international flights land in Goa with 4,000 passengers, and that every flight has Covid positive cases. “We have to be strict to control Covid spread,” he said.The cruise vessel was to disembark some passengers for a day tour in Goa.
The Goa government, meanwhile, is aiming to inoculate all 72,000 children in the 15-18 age group against Covid-19 with the first dose in the next four days after vaccination opens for them on Monday, state health minister Vishwajit Rane said on Sunday.
“Goa has already received 72,000 doses to vaccinate the children between the age group of 15 to 18 years, which would be administered within 3-4 days from January 3 onwards,” Rane told reporters after attending a meeting of health ministers of states chaired by Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya.
Rane also said Goa will set up a genome sequencing machine in the next 15 days to avoid delay in the testing of suspected Omicron variant samples, which are currently sent to the Pune-based National Institute of Virology (NIV).
He said that chief minister Pramod Sawant will hold a meeting of Covid task force on Monday in which certain measures are likely to be announced to curb the spread of coronavirus infections.