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Covid-19 outbreak: IIT-M shuts down academic zone temporarily

IIT-Madras campus has been placed under temporary lockdown after over 100 students and staff members of the institute tested positive for Covid-19. The institute became one of the biggest clusters that have emerged in Chennai after the state government permitted educational institutions to function from December first week. In the last week, 71 residents of IIT-Madras tested positive for Covid-19 and on Monday, 33 more were found to be infected.

Following the outbreak, IIT-M has decided to close all the departments temporarily including all the centres, labs, and library. In a release, the IIT-M management said: “The Institute has been functioning on limited capacity with only 10% students in the hostels. As soon as a spurt in symptomatic cases was reported by some students residing in the hostels, the Institute has consulted the civic authorities and has arranged for all students residing in hostels to be tested for Covid-19. To be cautious, all students have been asked to remain in their rooms and packed food is being supplied to the students in the hostels.”

Tamil Nadu health secretary J Radhakrishnan while addressing the media, said: “We have taken 447 samples till now. The positivity rate is around 20% now. People need not panic, we are doing aggressive testing and trying to curb the spread.”

According to him, people who are admitted to King’s Institute in Guindy are stable now.

“We have ordered to close the mess; the students have been instructed not to leave their rooms. The management will provide them with food and any necessary items at their doorstep. All the district collectors have been instructed to monitor the rest of the educational institutions across the state. The spread of the infection is higher at the eating place, so I request people to maintain distance while eating. We are constantly monitoring the situation, the IIT management is also co-operating well with us,” he further said.

IIT-M has been permitting research scholars who need to do experimental work to return to campus since August in a calibrated manner with a 14-day quarantine and testing of each returnee.

“Our capacity to quarantine is limited and this limits the rate at which we can bring back scholars to the hostels. Some project staff working on research projects and staying in the city have also been coming to work in the labs, once this was permitted by the government,” the IIT-M release said.

IIT-M has been constantly in touch with the civic authorities and has been following all protocols and safety measures. The health authorities and the institute are working closely to contain the outbreak by saturation testing and isolation of all positive cases, it added.