Published: 25th November 2021
Hostels turn containment zones, physical classes suspended after 73 students test COVID positive in 2 Odisha districts
A medical college is being blamed due to an outbreak at the annual college fest which saw a large gathering of students; exams have been shifted online
Odisha was thrown into a state of panic after two educational institutions reported cluster outbreaks of COVID-19, amounting to 73 cases in Sundargarh and Sambalpur districts. At least 42 students of St Mary’s Girls High School in Sundargarh were placed in isolation after they tested positive for COVID-19 while around 31 MBBS students of Veer Surendra Sai Institute of Medical Sciences and Research (VIMSAR), Burla in Sambalpur, were also found infected.
Chief district medical and public health officer of Sundargarh, Dr SK Mishra, said on November 19 that a girl student fell unconscious and as part of the protocol, was tested for COVID-19. She was found infected. During contact tracing, nine other students were also found positive, including three with symptoms of cough and cold.
A total of 10 students were found positive initially and placed in home isolation. Subsequently, mass testing was done and another 32 asymptomatic students tested positive. They have been kept in isolation in hostel rooms. All the 624 hostel inmates have been tested and those with the infection are being identified and isolated, Dr Mishra said.
School principal Sister Patricia said a majority of the infected students are from Classes X, IX and VIII. The school administration has decided to suspend physical classes for seven days, she said. VIMSAR Director Lalit Meher said that 31 medical students were found positive after around 180 samples were collected from three hostels for screening. The screening was done after a first-year MBBS student, who developed mild symptoms three days back, tested positive.
Six students were found positive on the second day. Subsequently, students in the ladies' hostel were also tested and many of them were found COVID-19 positive. While 22 students had tested positive by Monday, the number went up to 31 by Tuesday evening, November 23. Currently, all the infected students have been kept in the isolation ward of VIMSAR’s COVID-19 hospital.
Following the detection of such a large number of COVID cases, VIMSAR authorities have written to the district administration to declare the three hostels of the institution as micro-containment zones. It has been decided to conduct all classes online. The internal assessment examination, which is currently underway, will also be held online.
On November 13 and 14, there was a large gathering of VIMSAR students for their annual function UTKARSH-2021 on the campus. It is suspected that the event may have led to the spread of COVID infection among students.
The State government has advised students not to attend offline classes if they have any symptoms. “School students are more vulnerable to the infection. The school and college authorities should ensure strong enforcement of COVID safety guidelines on campuses and keep a close eye on students with symptoms,” said Public Health Director Niranjan Mishra.