With at least 34 deaths in the past 18 days, AMU reels under COVID-19 attack, VC writes to ICMR

On Sunday, Vice-Chancellor Tariq Mansoor wrote to the ICMR, urging it to study the infection variant circulating around the university campus
Aligarh Muslim University
Aligarh Muslim University

At least 16 serving and 18 retired teachers besides other employees of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) have succumbed to COVID-19 in the past 18 days. The alarming number of deaths in recent days among AMU teachers due to COVID-19 and COVID-like symptoms has caused a lot of concern on the university campus.

On Sunday, Vice-Chancellor Tariq Mansoor wrote to the ICMR, urging it to study the infection variant circulating around the university campus. The VC said there is a possibility that "a particular variant may be circulating in areas around the AMU campus and surrounding localities, which has led to these deaths."

Professor Shakeel Samdani, dean of the law faculty of AMU who was undergoing treatment at Aligarh's Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College became the latest victim of the infection and passed away on Friday. The first death of a professor of AMU was recorded on April 20 when the former proctor and dean student welfare professor Jamshed Ali Siddiqui passed away. Earlier, Medical Department Chairman Professor Shadab Ahmed Khan (58 years) and Computer Department Professor Rafiqul Zaman Khan (55 years) also succumbed to COVID-19. At the same time, Umar Farooq, brother of Vice-Chancellor Mansoor also died from the Coronavirus.

He was a former member of the University Court and a member of the Mohammedan Educational Conference. "The university is deeply concerned with the death of its faculty members, including retired teachers and other employees," Omar Peerzada, Public Relations Officer of the university told the newspaper. However, Peerzada said that the list of deceased being circulated on social media includes the names of several faculty members who were residing outside Aligarh. "Non-Covid deaths are also included in this list. Our healthcare staff and frontline workers along with the administration are working day in and day out to combat the pandemic. These are challenging times for everyone but we will win this over," Peerzada said.

According to the list being circulated on social media, 43 professors from AMU have succumbed to the Coronavirus infection in the last few days but that list could not be verified by this newspaper. The shocking number of deaths have prompted the V-C to write to the central government. In a letter to the director-general of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the VC emphasised the need for the study to control the spread of the virus. He said the microbiology laboratory at Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College is sending samples to the Institute of Genomic and Integrated Biology laboratory, New Delhi, for the genome sequencing of variants detected in the town.

Meanwhile, Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College Principal Shahid Ali Siddiqui told media persons that 25 doctors at the hospital there tested positive for the infection in the past fortnight. According to the VC, only three doctors are under treatment as others have recovered from the infection but according to sources in the university, 16 people, including faculty members, are currently under treatment in the COVID ward of Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College. The college principal reportedly said the hospital is battling a shortage of medical oxygen and totally dependent on its three liquid oxygen plants. For the past 12 days, the hospital has not received a single oxygen cylinder from outside despite continuous efforts, he said.

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