As cases surge at state secretariat, Goa orders 50% staff to report to work

Amid a surge in Covid-19 cases, the Goa government has ordered that no more 50 percent of the staff of each department at the state secretariat should report to work. This comes after the state’s premier administrative block witnessed a surge in coronavirus cases among its staff.

“On account of the increase in Covid-19 cases in the Secretariat, Departments/Offices it is directed that not more than 50% strength of the secretariat employees shall attend the office on a particular day and the remaining employees shall work from home on an alternate day basis,” an order issued by the joint secretary of general administration said.

The orders which come into effect from August 31 will remain in force at least until September 11, the order stated.

The comes over ten days after a staff of the secretariat protested against the government’s inaction in introducing social distancing measures for employees. Back then, the number of cases was only around a dozen. It has now crossed 50.

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On August 18, around 150 employees, alarmed by the rising Covid-19 cases in the administrative complex, had gathered in the foyer while a few called on the chief secretary to urge him to introduce either a 50 percent workforce or staggered a mode of working for the employees.

“If this continues like this then we will all become positive and the administration will totally collapse. So before it collapses, the government should do something and send out some guidelines. We cannot work from home because we don’t have amenities. At least we can work at 50 percent strength, but there should be some clarity on how we are supposed to work,” Sukarna Pai, an employee of the revenue department, said.

Besides the secretariat, several other government departments have been plagued by Covid-19 with cases being detected in the electricity department, rural development agency, the Goa State AIDS Control Society and some district court complexes.

The Goa government also resisted making it optional for teachers to work and conduct online classes from home. Instead, the government insisted that they report to school on all working days which led to some cases of infection among teachers.

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