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IIT Madras tally at 191 positive cases, six cases in neighbouring Anna University

Eight more students on Wednesday tested positive for the novel coronavirus at IIT-Madras taking the total number of cases to 191 from December 1 up to now. The premier institution reported sporadic cases earlier in the month which eventually turned into Covid-19 cluster.

On Monday, 104 cases were reported and 79 new cases were reported on Tuesday. The state health department intervened to control the spread and the Greater Chennai Corporation tested close to 1,000 samples in the entire campus which included 770 students.

The eating area is suspected to have been the source of the spread and all students and residents are now quarantined inside hostel rooms at IIT-Madras where food is being delivered to them. The positive patients from the institution are being treated at the government- run King Institute of Preventive Medicine and Research. They are said to have mild symptoms and are stable.

Meanwhile civic authorities also tested 550 people at the neighbouring Anna University on Tuesday after two students had reported fever. While these two students turned negative, the mass testing revealed six others at Anna University as positive

To avoid an IIT-like situation, Tamil Nadu has started state-wide aggressive testing in college and university campuses, particularly institutions where there are hostels. The state has also instructed educational institutions with only one eating area to give only take-away packed food to students. Tamil Nadu had allowed reopening of classes for final year undergraduate students across all streams from December 7.

“The main issue is that there is no mask compliance,” said health secretary J Radhakrishnan. “You obviously have to remove your mask while eating but the danger is when people gather together to eat and have conversations in a group. We have to continue to be careful until we get a vaccine.” Radhakrishnan has warned action under the Epidemic Disease Act, 1897 against the management of educational institutions if they failed to restrict students from sitting together in classes or in eating areas without social distancing.