Covid cases multiply at IIT Madras; Health authorities advise caution across Tamil Nadu in India
The COVID-19 cluster in IIT-Madras in Chennai has grown to a total of 55 cases, a significant number considering that there are only 286 active cases recorded in the southern state.
According to Tamil Nadu Health Secretary Dr J Radhakrishnan, the 55 cases on campus were confirmed after performing 1,420 tests over the last couple of days.
He added that most of the students had mild symptoms, such as throat irritation and fever, while their blood oxygen saturation levels remained safe. With this cluster emerging and the pan-India trend of rising cases, the Tamil Nadu Government will be ramping up daily COVID-19 testing from 14,000 per day to 18,000 and eventually 25,000.
Elaborating on the cases in Tamil Nadu, Dr Radhakrishnan, said, of the 286 active cases, only 17 were hospitalised, whereas the others were either isolated at home or in isolation facilities. Further, he stated that two patients are in the intensive care unit and seven of them are under oxygen support. On the cases in IIT Madras, he pointed towards the possibility of the spread having originated from students, who had recently travelled from other parts of the country and joined campus.
On Friday, when a total of 33 cases were reported from the IIT Madras Campus, the institute had gone ahead with an in-person press meet on covid management, despite there being a known outbreak of a COVID-19 cluster and the further risk of spread. Notably, the institute had not formally communicated about the virus outbreak on campus or the prevailing situation there, when rolling out in-person invitations.
In a statement, IIT Madras later said that they were fully geared up to meet any exigency and all students were vaccinated, the institute would handle the current cases effectively, based on the lessons they learnt from handling the outbreaks during past three waves.
On Friday, Dr Radhakrishnan emphasised the need for people across Tamil Nadu to mask-up and follow Covid protocols. While stressing that the masking rule had never been relaxed by the government, he said that the collection of a Rs 500 penalty from mask-rule violators would resume with immediate effect. Allaying concerns of COVID-19 bed shortages that may arise, he said that there were more than 1.1 lakh beds in Tamil Nadu at present, in comparison with 1.8 lakh beds during the peak phase of the pandemic.