People showing their gratitude and showering praises on Dr. Edwin Gomes, the doctor at the forefront leading Goa’s battle against COVID - when he returned home after 98-days of duty at the ESI hospital in Margao - is a natural response from the public towards a person who has stood appreciably against the might of the potent virus to do the best he can to save as many lives as he could given the current circumstances.
Affectious gestures proffered to Dr. Ira Almeida would also suggest the same feelings among the public. For that matter, the need to applaud the selfless efforts of the medical fraternity and those associated with it for their dedicated service during the pandemic should not be seen as a mere formality.
Superheroes in their own rights, each and every COVID warrior is deserving of the public adulation that has come their way in the wake of the pandemic. Philanthropic interests have also driven many corporates and other charitable organizations in Goa to contribute towards the state’s endeavor to contain the surge of the disease.
Even otherwise, the mortal fear that has the populace in a vice-like grip is evidently having a debilitating effect as the state reports a spike in positive cases with every passing day. At a time when high-profile patients are succumbing to the virulent effects of the disease, an average Goan has every reason to feel despondent. Left to ponder over his fate were he to fall prey to the infection; the common man is driven to despair.
Moreover, with the onset of monsoon, cold, cough and fever which would otherwise have been seen as ailments which are typical of the rainy weather are bound to assume a greater significance during the ‘corona season’. Yet, with COVID continuing to occupy everyone’s minds, an ‘overenthusiastic’ few in many localities are known to have cried wolf whenever reports of flu like symptoms have surfaced in their area much to the chagrin of the local residents who begin apprehending the consequential tag of an infected zone stigmatizing their neighborhood.
The rapidity with which the infections are flaring up, the uneasy mood that is prevalent in Goa over the disease is quite understandable. However, utterances by prominent personalities about the sorry state of affairs of the COVID care centres and hospitals in the state at this stage will only add fuel to the fire, so to speak. Amidst all this drama however, the government should also be maintaining an unbiased approach while treating COVID patients and showing the same concern for each of them irrespective of their social standing.
While it goes without saying that every citizen is entitled to the best of treatment available, a news item in a section of the press about the state government consulting AIIMS doctors for treating a legislator infected with COVID does give grounds for doubts to be raised - would the government be equally concerned where it the life of an ordinary citizen that demanded attention!
With such apprehensions already being raised over the shortages that plague the COVID hospitals and care centres, allegations of a treatment-bias will further demoralize the public. It is nevertheless praiseworthy that with the limited resources at its disposal, the state has managed exceeding well in its fight against the pandemic.
If reports of the recent swell in infections have been worrying, the rate of recovery on the other hand has undoubtedly been encouraging. Nevertheless, there might yet be a silver lining to all the dread and mayhem that has set in in the wake of the pandemic!
The plasma bank set up at the in-house blood bank of Goa Medical College and Hospital at Bambolim has been made operational. But with the government deciding to seek the support of the defence forces posted in Goa, it is however quite apparent that all the efforts of the state administration at containing the infection rate in the region have come to a naught.
Moreover, encumbered by the prospects of systemizing a set of Standard Operating Procedures which are however in sharp contrast to its existing protocols governing various lockdown directives every time the state envisages the easing of restrictions on any activity; it is chaos that has welcomed Goa’s unlocking phase.
The state government ought to have a rethink on its approach to prevent the overwhelming spurt in infections lest it has dangerous implications for the populace. Considering however that the BJP-government in Goa has been a story of confusions getting the better of effective governance, a general feeling that it is best that politicians and bureaucrats leave the state’s COVID combat to health professionals assumes significance with each passing day.
It is more than obvious that the strategy by the government to flatten the curve has failed miserably. Barring the diligent efforts of a few officers in the administration to whom the locals will always be indebted to for their fortitude on the face of the devastating situation; the unpleasant set of circumstances in evidence in the state these days builds up an impression which implies that the government has faltered at every step in determining the order for dealing with various corona-crisis related issues according to their importance.
It hence becomes imperative that the state government ‘unburdens’ itself of the onus and leaves the responsibility of curbing the COVID spread to medical experts. Bidding to bring about a positive change in the scenario vis-à-vis the pandemic, the health professionals, with some credible help from the government, could yet save the day for Goa!
(Published on 20th July 2020, Volume XXXII, Issue 30)