Cedric da Costa
With reference to my previous two letters to the Editor (Herald July, 17 & Aug 7) with the title - Margao needs more COVID care - ever since July and now September, it looks like the situation for the 'Commercial Capital' is going from bad-to-worse on the COVID-19 pandemic front and despite Margao having the ESI Hospital, the South Goa District Hospital and the Hospicio Hospital all in close proximity and assisting not just Madgaumkars, Xashtikars but entire Goa, there seems no respite from two things : i) Rising positive cases, ii) Govt excuses for the rise.
Sadly, Margao has not started and lags behind on the war against COVID- 19, mainly due to poor administration and enforcement which is not pulling up its socks even as cases and deaths in Margao are on a rise, and citizens live in escalated fear.
The Sonsoddo garbage dump seems to be all set to bring the usual players back on its dump to play dirty games, portions of Margao where the bailing stations were erected like old fish market behind Minicipal bldg, SGPDA grounds are breeding mosquitoes and house flies and areas of Comba, Khareband, Colmorod, Aquem, Cine Lata etc are still having major garbage dumps, unattended on a daily basis.
About COVID-19, although we had cases inside the market yard, SGPDA, Aquem, Power House, and Malbhat, there still seems to be no plan in place to clean up the areas of Margao nor a robust mission to enforce social distance, mask usage and other precautionary measure as also gatherings of people.
The SGPDA wholesale fish market is one such hot spot where transmission fears are fuelled as safety norms are flouted and little action from SGPDA.
Further, as testing has increased, there seems no protocol followed and many incidents have come to light wherein, after testing and before results are got - the tested person is called back to the workplace, God forbid his/her tests come positive, they would have transmitted the virus to many who come in contact with them. There is no serious tracking of positive home quarantined cases also and individuals too take it for granted.
The facilities at ESI Hospital, Margao, now that many who have been cured and come back home, state basic amenities like wash basins, toilets as also hygiene of beds and floors need lots to be done and patients are left unattended. Shortage of ambulances, nurses and doctors also felt by patients and most positive cases are told to use own private vehicle to get admitted to ESI Hospital.
The street children who beg as also beggars have not been rehabilitated yet and they continue to traumatise citizens at traffic signals, markets and streets in general, in some cases even touching and asking money.
The beggars as also the street kids wear no masks.
There has to be a concerted effort by the MLA who is also Leader of Opposition than mere press conferences and suggestions to do this-and-that have failed the people.
As the term of the Margao Municipal Council ends in Oct 2020, some councillors have gone home and are unwilling to lend support to the citizens during emergencies. The Council itself is plagued with garbage collection and disposal woes with the city having no system to dispose medical waste.
The one solution to tackle the rising number of virus cases in Margao needs a visionary pro-active approach and this doesn't help as the MLA refuses to utter anything against the Govt nor the Health Minister for reasons best known to him.
The lack of vision or a game plan for Goa and Margao is obvious as to how virus related events are handled by the Govt and Health Ministry since Jan 2020 and now and all we hear is 'outsourcing', 'purchasing' and 'all is taken care of' pitches by the Health Minister which have fallen flat on its face.
The abrupt and untimely replacing (sans a valid or genuine reason) of Dr Ira Almeida who has been Margao's, 'Florence Nightingale', who literally reaching out to the sick at Hospicio Hospital since long and now during the Coronavirus scenario has dampened the spirits of Madgaonkars and taken the faith off the unsteady Health Ministry in the battle against the virus, and exposed the unprofessional, inefficient and arrogant handling of the healthcare portfolio which the Govt, specially the CM has to immediately look into in a blunt manner is Goa and Margao as the ministry shows signs of a lack of serious robust counter attack to the pandemic that is threatening or is already gone out-of-hand.
All in all, Margao continues to be sitting on a major time bomb of COVID- 19, which can go the Vasco way at anytime as too many loose ends and gaps are left to the mercies of the Gods.
God save Goa and Margao.