PANAJI: Minutes after state Health Minister Vishwajit Rane on Wednesday confirmed Goa's first positive coronavirus (Covid-19) case, the minister flip-flopped by saying that his ministry was the victim of a mischievous hoax. The Congress has called for the resignation of Rane over the gaffe.
"It was hoax news. People should not be spreading such a hoax. Calling the hospital and saying the call is from a notified lab (is wrong). The final report has not yet come. We are waiting for the report," Rane told reporters.
"We are trying to locate the number of the person who tried to create panic in Goa," Rane added.
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Minutes earlier, Rane had told reporters that a Norwegian national, with a travel history to Delhi, Agra, Assam and Meghalaya, was the first confirmed coronavirus case reported in Goa.
Rane had said that the Norwegian national, who has been suffering from fever and cough, was in the process of being shifted to the isolation ward at the Goa Medical College.
"The Norwegian patient reached India on February 6 and then went to Delhi, Assam, Agra and Meghalaya before coming to Goa on February 20. He had fever with cough from March 10. We will be putting him in an isolation ward and all the necessary measures under the guidelines are being taken," Rane told reporters on Wednesday.
"The Goa government is taking all precautions required under the protocol," the Health Minister said.
Goa is a renowned beach and nightlife tourism destination and attracts thousands of foreign tourists every year.
Meanwhile, the Congress has called for Rane's resignation for creating panic in Goa over the coronavirus issue.
"The very fact that the Health Minister himself makes the annoucement of detection of the first confirmed case of Covid-19 in Goa without any verification and later takes back his statement proves that the so called arrangements made by the government to control the spread of coronavirus in Goa is a hoax," state Congress president Girish Chodankar told reporters.
"This is not the first time that Viswajit Rane has created artificial panic in the minds of the people," Chodankar said, adding that if Rane is not sacked, he would convert Goa, a top tourism destination, into a "Corona destination".
Meanwhile, the Health Minister also maintained that the state government was mulling a lockdown of its road-borders connecting Maharashtra and Karnataka to prevent tourists from visiting the coastal state.
"Parallelly, the government is issuing directives and has moved a file for a lockdown to prevent tourists from neighbouring Maharashtra and Karnataka from entering Goa," Rane said, adding that a lab to test coronavirus samples was being set up in Goa.
Currently, Covid-19 samples of suspect cases are sent to the National Institute of Virology in Pune for testing.
Last Sunday, the Goa government had ordered a partial lockdown of the state's public spaces.