Panaji, March 13 (IANS) Chief Minister Pramod Sawant’s busy campaign schedule for the upcoming Zilla Panchayat elections may end up delaying action on two key Health Ministry recommendations to safeguard the state’s population against coronavirus.
Speaking to reporters, Goa Health Minister Vishwajit Rane said that his Ministry on Friday had recommended to the Chief Minister’s Office to ban public assembly at the ongoing Shigmo religious festival, as well as direct schools to avoid holding classes for students up to Class IX.
The Health Minister, however, said Chief Minister Pramod Sawant was busy with campaigning for the Zilla Panchayat elections and would take a decision on the crucial recommendations soon.
“I strongly believe that the Shigmo should be cancelled along with classes in schools till Class IX. The Chief Minister has said that he is campaigning and he would take a decision by tonight or tomorrow,” Rane also said, adding that only Goa Board examinations for Class X and Class XII students should be allowed in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
“Life is more important, Shigmo will happen every year,” Rane said.
Shigmo is a traditional Hindu spring festival which witnesses crowds in thousands who assemble on the streets to watch decorated floats depicting religious and historic scenes.
Rane also said that his Ministry had involved the Epidemic Disease Act, 1897, for swift and efficient management of the viral outbreak. “We have invoked the Epidemic Disease Act, 1897. We are going to strictly enforce it,” Rane said.
The Health Minister also said that the Epidemic Disease Act 1897 empowered the Health department to cancel all mass gatherings in the state and it would be enforced stringently.
Earlier on Friday, the Information and Publicity Ministry, which is controlled by the Chief Minister, had urged people to take adequate precautions while attending the Shigmo festival, while making no mention of banning of any public assembly.
Not positive case of coronavirus has been detected in Goa, even as currently one suspect has been quarantined in a government-run isolation facility. “We will be getting the test results on Saturday,” Rane said.