Susegad, easily the ‘Goan’ word most searched and written by those from outside yearning to board on to the Goa way of life, is known more for what it connotes than what it literally means. It’s a sense of time standing still, a languid pace of life, devoid of worry. Now, the idyll has been shattered. When Covid cases dropped in December and CM Pramod Sawant had his ‘I have a dream’ moment, he uttered three words that are now like an albatross around his neck: “Bhivpachi garaz na” (There’s no need to worry). Claiming that treatment facilities for Covid in Goa are the best in the country, he repeated the words in the assembly: “I say again bhivpachi garaz na, but we need to also do testing on time and take proper treatment.”
It is this that has led to Goa throwing up stunning Covid figures—its policy of come-one-come-all, in a flagrant attempt to keep business and tourism lobbies invested in the government. No one was prepared for this. On April 29, when Mumbai had 4,174 cases, Goa had 3,019. By May 3, Mumbai was down to 2,604, while Goa had 2,703. Then, from May 4 and May 13, Goa recorded more cases than Mumbai every day. On most days, Goa saw only 10-15 deaths less than the maximum city, whose population is 10.7 million more. And on May 11 and 12, more people died of Covid in Goa (75 and 70) than in Mumbai (51 and 66).
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With people dying every day in Goa’s largest hospital, Goa Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), local media ran daily lead reports on corruption in the health department—from the way it sourced oxygen cylinders to the purchase of overpriced ventilators—adding to...