Panaji: In was indeed a moment of pride for Goa when it became the first green state in the country with no coronavirus case as the last seven COVID-19 patients walked out of the hospital hale and hearty. And the person who was instrumental in curbing the spread of the contagious coronavirus and scripting this incredible story is Nila Mohanan, the state's health secretary and an IAS officer hailing from Kerala. Nila has been working in Goa for the past five years.
Goa was on high alert even during the first phase of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country as this coastal state attracts many tourists from across the world, said Nila to Onmanorama. Right from the beginning, healthcare workers were posted at airports to check travellers. The screening of foreign holidaymakers was tightened from January 30 and that of domestic tourists from March 20. The first positive cases were reported in Goa after lockdown came into force in the country. The tests of seven people turned positive out of which six had a foreign travel history as five of them worked in cruise ships, and one was the relative of a patient.
An exhaustive contact tracing was carried out and those who were in contact with the patients were put in 14-day quarantine. The state administration also made sure that the passengers who travelled with the infected people went into self-isolation for a stipulated period of time. Initially, lack of a specialized lab to conduct coronavirus test was a major challenge for the state, but the opening of such a lab in Goa after the lockdown started augured well for the state’s fight against coronavirus. Two more specialized labs are ready to conduct more tests in the state. The frontline healthcare professionals, including doctors and nurses, working in the COVID-designated hospital were provided all facilities to protect themselves from the coronavirus. Moreover, the state took the initiative to accommodate them in hotels near the hospital.
The government officials conducted a door-to-door survey, from April 13 to 15, of more than 4.5 lakh households to check for any Influenza-like Illness (ILI) in the state. The state administration had also put in place facilities if there was a need to conduct more tests.
Presently, Goa is under complete lockdown. As part of its efforts to fight coronavirus, the state had extended the restrictions after the Janata curfew on March 22 for three days and entered country-wide lockdown from the midnight of March 25.
“We are not letting our guard down. The state is still on alert though there is no positive case in the state. Anyone having symptoms are being thoroughly examined at Goa Medical College,” noted Nila.
All COVID-19 patients left the hospital the other day after their tests turned negative, and the last positive case was reported in the state on April 3. State health minister Vishwajith Rane showered praise on Nila and other officials who worked relentlessly to curb the spread of coronavirus. The health officials, along with the health secretary, are not resting on their laurels and are active as ever to detect new cases, if any.
Kudos from ‘Collector bro’
Kerala Shipping and Inland Navigation Corporation managing director Prasanth Nair IAS, who had earned the moniker ‘Collector bro’ for his people-friendly initiatives, said that all were proud of Nila Mohanan’s achievements. “Goa is a very small state, nearly one-tenth the size of Kerala. The steady flow of domestic and foreign tourists made Goa a risky state in the wake of the coronavirus scare. Moreover, many positive cases were reported in the neighbouring state of Maharashtra, he noted in a note on social media.
“Goa is heavily dependent on other states, and the state reined in the spread of coronavirus after a long-drawn battle. I came to know about the exemplary work done by the state health secretary and felt proud of her. Good to know that the person behind this success story is a Keralite, Nila Mohanan IAS. She is the daughter of noted journalist K P Mohanan,” Prasanth added.