Media reports claimed that eight more resident students of IIT Madras had tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday. This takes the total number of COVID-19 cases recorded at the institution to 191 since it reopened on December 1.
Meanwhile, six students at the Anna University's College of Engineering (Guindy campus) in Chennai have also tested positive. The institution conducted tests after two resident students complained of fever.
S Iniyan, dean, College of Engineering, said the six students who tested positive are asymptomatic. “500 samples were taken yesterday and 200 more samples will be taken today. The students who tested positive for Covid-19 showed no symptoms. We are hoping that they will recover soon. There is no compulsion for students (for physical presence in the classroom) at all. If they wish to attend classes online, they can do that. We are not taking any attendance. We are following all the safety precautions issued by the government,” Iniyan was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.
Amid the surge in COVID-19 cases, the Tamil Nadu government has ordered testing at all colleges and universities.
Tamil Nadu Health Secretary Dr J. Radhakrishnan inspected the IIT Madras campus on Wednesday. He was quoted by The Indian Express as saying, “We have been telling this, again and again, not wearing masks could increase the risk of getting infected by the virus. While eating, we need to remove masks and hence we should make sure we maintain social distancing. Few small mistakes will cause great danger…”
"We are also focussing on other campuses where final year students and post graduates have joined. The honourable Chief Minister has ordered to ensure that RT-PCR testing should also be intensified in these campuses especially if they have just one mess or a common dining hall. We have suggested take-away food, just like at IIT," Radhakrishnan was quoted as saying by NDTV.
On Tuesday, Radhakrishnan warned institutions of action under The Epidemic Diseases Act and the Tamil Nadu Public Health Act, if they violated government orders.
Action would be taken if they become responsible for the virus spread, he said.
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"I am warning," he said, pointing out government departments alone would not be able to prevent the virus spread and all others including colleges should take up responsibility.
Instances like students gathering in classrooms without following physical distancing and giving a go by to wearing masks or crowding in dining halls must be avoided, he said.