Goa prepared for tourist season

Prakash Kamat

Officials hold out assurance to hoteliers, tour operators

Thermal scanners installed at principal entry points

PANAJI: As the coastal tourist State is gearing for a tourism season with the onset of winter, the State health authorities have promised the hospitality industry that effective systems and measures were in place to deal with any eventualities such as spread of influenza A(H1N1).

The State gets nearly two million tourists, including over three lakh foreign tourists. The State handles nearly 600 chartered flights annually from different parts of the world.

An interactive meeting was held between the officials and The Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) on Monday. The meeting was chaired by Minister for Health Vishwajeet Rane.

Association president Ralph de Souza was present.

Sources told The Hindu after the meeting that the authorities had assured the hoteliers and travel operators of extending quick, proper and professional help to tackle any suspected cases of flu.

The Health Department authorities have installed thermal scanners to detect any person with symptoms of flu entering Goa at the principal entry points. The time for obtaining analysis reports had been reduced from seven days to three.

Speaking about the facilities, the authorities said the patients would have a choice of government or private hospitals. There were proper beds with all modern facilities and with high standards of housekeeping, managed by English-speaking doctors and staff. It was revealed that besides the three government hospitals at Margao and Chicalim in south Goa, the Goa Medical College hospital and five private hospitals had been approved to treat suspected cases.

These hospitals are SMRC — Vasco, Vivus — Vasco, Apollo — Margao, NUSI — Cuncolim (all in south Goa) and Manipal — Dona Paula near here.

All these hospitals had sufficient stocks of medicines needed for the treatment of the virus. This was necessary as pharmacists were reluctant to stock these medicines as they involved administrative and stocking hardships such as keeping inventories, stock registers and constant monitoring and inspections from the health authorities, as they fell under Schedule A.

Mr. Rane said Goa Mineral Foundation, a socio-economic foundation floated by the State’s private sector mining industry, had come forward with an offer to meet the expenses of a state-of-art diagnostic clinic proposed to be set up at the Goa Medical College, Bambolim. This would be commissioned in two months, and thereafter the analysis reports will be made available within 12 hours.

Over 250 patients detected with A(H1N1) had been treated. However, despite a death, the State had one of the best success records in managing the virus, Mr. Rane said.