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IIT Madras shuts campus again after over 60 students, staff members test positive for Covid

The academic block in IIT Madras had reopened on 7 December for research scholars after state government allowed reopening of higher institutions.

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras has temporarily shut down its academic block after 60 people, including students and staff members, tested positive for Covid-19.

The academic block had reopened on 7 December for research scholars and according to the institute, a total of 66 people, including students, have tested positive for the virus.

There are more than 700 research scholars on the campus currently with most of them residing in various hostels. The institute is now getting all the students tested.

IIT Madras had allowed research scholars to come back to campus in a phased manner after the state government permitted the reopening of higher education institutions on 1 December.

However, after many of them tested positive, the labs and the academic block have been placed under lockdown once again, and classes are being conducted online.

‘All students have been asked to remain in their rooms’
According to a statement by IIT Madras, the institute had been functioning on limited capacity with 10 per cent students in hostels before the spurt in cases was reported.

“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. 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,” the statement, released Monday, read.

The institute further noted that some scholars working on research projects had been accessing the labs, once the state government lifted restrictions. A standard operating procedure was in place for these scholars to ensure adequate distancing and avoid crowding.

“Research scholars who wished to return earlier (out of turn with respect to the SoP involving quarantine before release 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,” the statement noted.

It added: “We will attempt to increase our capacity to quarantine returning students since the government is releasing the hostels they took custody of, to quarantine Covid patients during the last 7 months.”