Coronavirus outbreak: SSC student tests positive for COVID-19

Updated: Mar 25, 2020, 07:23 IST | Pallavi Smart | Mumbai

At least 36 students who took the exam at the same centre in south Mumbai and eight teachers there will be screened to see if they have been infected

Students prepare to take the SSC exam. File pic
Students prepare to take the SSC exam. File pic

A total of 36 students who appeared for the Secondary School Certificate (SSC) examination at an exam centre in South Mumbai and eight teachers who were invigilators will have to undergo screening process for COVID-19; after a student who appeared for the examination there tested positive for it.

The Education Department swung into action on Monday when the boy's test result was out. While it already began to trace everyone who was in contact with the teen, the state's decision to continue with the board examination after the lockdown until the last paper is receiving more criticism after this incident.

Student changed class
The incident came to light after the boy went for a test at Kasturba Hospital where his results showed he was COVID-19 positive. Soon after knowing that he appeared for the SSC examination, work began to trace all those who were in contact with him. "Typically a single class has 24 students. However, we are not assuming that he was infected only on Saturday. We gathered details of the past eight days in which he has changed the classroom once. In total there are 36 students he shared a classroom with, along with eight teachers. Details of all these persons have been informed to the health department which is following up with them," said Mahesh Palkar, education officer of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). The patient who is a resident of Kamathipura, does not have travel history and has been infected through close contact.

Wards to decide
According to information provided by Chanda Jadhav, assistant commissioner of A-Ward of BMC, where the school is located, depending on each person's address details, respective wards have been notified. "Now respective ward offices along with health department officials will take a decision on who needs to undergo tests and who needs to be quarantined for now. Depending on the symptoms shown by them, required decisions will be taken. Important to note here is that all those who have come in contact with this student have been identified," said Jadhav.

While the situation for now seems to be under control with detailed identification of all those who came in contact with the COVID-19 infected student at the exam centre; the information has led to criticism. "Teachers and schools were constantly demanding that the examinations be postponed. But the state adamantly continued with the SSC paper on Saturday. Eventually the last paper of SSC was postponed for the same reason," said Uday Nare, former member of the state board. Adding to this, a teacher said, "It is only the state board which continued with the exam, while all other boards either cancelled or postponedit. Shockingly, even as the state declared lockdown, lakhs of students appeared for the examination on Saturday. It included teachers, non-teaching staff and parents who accompanied them to the exam centres.

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