IIT Madras reports over 100 COVID-19 cases: TN Health Secretary Radhakrishnan reveals why cases could increase!

The Indian Institute of Technology - Madras has been emerging as one of the biggest COVID-19 clusters in Chennai after the prestigious campus has got declared as the hotspot with over 100 positive cases so far since December 1, pushing the management to shut down its operations. 

According to reports, the institute has temporarily shut down its academic zone, labs, departments, and library and it has quarantined students who are staying at the hostel and the staff after nearly 71 people had tested positive for the COVID-19 viral infection as of Sunday since December 1. Of these 71 people, 66 were students, four were mess workers, and one faculty and the shocking development had pushed IIT-M to get declared as a COVID-19 hotspot and it has become the first big cluster in the city after the institutions were resumed its operations for the final year students. 

The officials in the IIT-M had divulged that there are 774 students on campus and the majority of those infected were residents of two hostels - Krishna and Jamuna. While two people had tested positive for the pandemic on December 1, 14 more confirmed to have contracted the virus on December 10 and the campus had recorded 55 more cases since Friday as it has got the grounds of widespread, the institute has been declared as a COVID-19 hotspot and it has become a major hotspot in the city amid falling cases and IIT-M is the first institute in its club to report COVID-19 cases after the resumption. 

On Saturday, the management has instructed the students who are staying in the hostel not to step out of their rooms as the institute has been taking measures to curb the spread. The reports say that the state health department officials had camped in the institute on Monday and they have been collecting and testing the samples from all the students to contain further spread. All positive cases are getting treated at the King Institute of Preventive Measure in Guindy and authorities had appealed to the students not to get panic. 

IIT-M had issued a circular in which it had directed faculty members, staff, research scholars, and project staff to work from home while the students and staff who are already on the campus were advised to stay under quarantine. It also has asked the students and staff to visit the hospital on the campus if they develop positive symptoms for COVID-19. IIT-M director Bhaskar Ramamurthi said that the management had approached civic authorities after the cases were reported and the management had also arranged tests for all students residing in hostels. 

Following the shocking development that the prestigious campus has been turning into the COVID-19 hotspot, the state government has initiated measures to curb the spread and while speaking to the reporters on Monday concerning the development, Tamil Nadu Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan IAS has revealed that IIT-M had reported 33 fresh COVID-19 cases on Monday which had taken the count of total cases to 104. The bureaucrat said that the state must stay vigil as IIT-M is a lesson for everyone and appealed to the people to adhere to the guidelines. 

By citing that he and the health minister would be visiting the institute, Radhakrishnan further asked not to fear about the development. According to reports, the IIT-M had reported 104 COVID-19 cases so far in two weeks and as the institute has got grounds of widespread, it has been expected that the cases could go high and the Tamil Nadu Health Department has begun aggressive COVID-19 testing within the IIT-Madras campus. 

The Health Secretary further stated that 444 people have been tested so far out of the 700 present on the campus and he highlighted that the cases would rise as restrictions were eased and students returned to campus. According to reports, while the IIT-M management and the health department are perplexed on the formation of the cluster and yet to identify the cause of the infection, the spread inside the campus has been attributed to the shared dining area in the campus. 

Students revealed that overcrowding at the mess had led to the spread of the infection. They say that there was just one mess on the campus due to the fewer strengths of students and when more of them had returned after the resumption, the mess has got overcrowded as the institute has got only one mess in operations. As they won't wear masks in the mess, they all become susceptible and four mess workers had also tested positive. The management has closed the dining hall and started distributing foods directly to the students' rooms. As the institute has been declared as the hotspot, the academic zones were temporarily closed and the premises had gone through the disinfection drive to curb the spread.