The Indian Institute of Technology, Madras has been hit by the coronavirus outbreak with over 100 people, a majority of the students, testing positive for the contagion, a top health official said on Monday.
A total of 104 students and others have contracted the disease and all were doing well in a hospital, Tamil Nadu Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan said.
There are 774 students on campus. The students who were infected were hostel inmates. A total of 444 persons had undergone Covid-19 tests.
The faculty, staff, project staff, and research scholars will have to work from home till the next announcement is made.
— IIT Madras (@iitmadras) December 14, 2020
The IIT Madras has issued an official circular on Sunday informing the shutting down of all departments and facilities with immediate effect.
As per the statement released by the Institute, “In view of the recent spike in Covid cases in the hostel sector, it has been decided to shut down all departments, Centres and the library immediately until further notice. All faculty, staff, project staff, and research scholars will work from home until such time. 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 for their own safety,” it reads.
The Institute is working on drafting Standard Operating Procedures, SOPs to determine how many scholars and project staff can work safely in each lab based on its size, ventilation, etc.
In case any research scholar wishes to return earlier, he will be permitted to do so if they are 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, read the statement.
While the department of health and the campus authorities are yet to identify the cause of the infection, some students have said that the crowding in the campus mess could be the reason of the virus’s spread. Since it is the only operational mess on the campus, students had crowded there during meal times and mask discipline was not followed since students had to eat food.
A statement from IIT Madras said that the institute has been functioning on limited capacity with only 10 percent students in the hostels and as soon as a spurt in symptomatic cases was reported by some hostel students, the institute has arranged Covid-19 test for them.
IIT Madras has been functioning on limited capacity with only 10% students in hostels. As soon as spurt in symptomatic cases was reported by some students residing in hostels, the Institute arranged for all students residing in hostels to be tested for COVID: IIT Madras Statement
— ANI (@ANI) December 14, 2020
IIT Madras has been permitting research scholars who need to do experimental work to return to campus cautiously – with a 14-day quarantine and testing of each returnee. Some project staff working on research projects and staying in the city have been coming to work in the labs, once the government permitted this.
“We will attempt to increase our capacity to quarantine returning students since the government is releasing the hostels that they took custody to quarantine Covid-19 patients during the last seven months,” the statement said.