IIT-Madras locked down after 66 students test coronavirus positive
Indian Institute of Technology, Madras was put under temporary lockdown after 71 people, including 66 students, tested positive for coronavirus in the last two weeks. The prestigious institute has reported 55 new cases since Friday, with the biggest spike of 32 cases being reported on Sunday. As a result, all departments, libraries, and labs have been shut. Here's what happened.
A total of 774 students are currently living on campus, and the maximum number of cases were reported from Krishna and Jamuna hostels. On Saturday, students were asked to not step outside their hostel rooms. "All students, scholars, and project staff staying on campus are advised strictly to confine themselves to their hostel rooms and maintain social distance at all times," a circular read.
"In view of the recent spike in COVID-19 cases, it has been decided to shut down all departments, centers, and the library immediately until further notice. All faculty, staff, project staff, and research scholars will work from home until such time," the circular added.
Though the institute is yet to determine what turned the campus into a coronavirus hotspot, some students believe overcrowding at mess sparked this situation. A research scholar told TOI that when there were fewer students, one mess was enough. "But after students returned, the mess was crowded," she said, adding that mess is not a place where anyone would wear masks.
After a few people working at the mess contracted the infection, the authorities brought a new batch of cooks on December 9. They were allowed to work after testing negative. A day later, the mess was closed and the food was sent to rooms of students. Following the lockdown, students are being served "packed food," the notable institute revealed.
Director Bhaskar Ramamurthi informed that district authorities were apprised about the situation, and arrangements were made to test all students. Nearly 700 students are being tested. The first batch of ten students, having moderate to severe symptoms of coronavirus, was admitted to the Institute of Ageing at the King Institute of Preventive Medicine in Guindy. 25 admissions were reported since December 1.
Ramamurthi said only 10% of students are residing in hostels. "Research scholars who wished to return earlier (out of turn with respect to the SoP involving quarantine before releasing into the hostels) were permitted to do so if they were willing to stay off-campus similar to project staff, till their turn came to be accepted in the hostels, and provided their lab could accommodate them," IIT-M said.