Covid-19: Tamil Nadu makes wearing masks mandatory again; 18 more IIT-Madras students test positive

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CHENNAI: Wearing masks has been made mandatory in Tamil Nadu once again in view of the rising number of Covid-19 cases. Violations would attract a fine of Rs 500, health secretary J Radhakrishnan said on Friday.
“The state withdrew the fine for not wearing masks when the caseload came down. Yet, we insisted that it is required for people to always wear masks when they are in public spaces. But we find people have abandoned them even in crowded closed enclosures. So, we are once again making masks mandatory to prevent rapid transmission of the virus,” he said. District authorities have been asked to enforce Covid’s appropriate behavior, he said.
Over the last two years, more than Rs 110 crore was collected as fines from around 68 lakh people for violations. “We should learn our lessons at least now,” he said.
Covid cases in IIT-Madras
The health secretary said 18 more IIT-Madras students tested positive for Covid-19. With this, the cluster tally on the campus rose to 30 over the past four days. The Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) is testing all students and staff of the institution.
The health conditions of all students were stable. Some students had complained of sore throat and one student had a fever, officials said. “While students who have tested positive have been isolated, we have asked all students to isolate themselves until test results arrive. The college has to postpone all cultural and academic events to avoid crowds,” he said.
Students who tested positive are now in the isolation unit of IIT in Taramani. Two floors in the Mandakini hostel and three rooms in other hostels will be used as isolation units. The Government Corona Hospital on the Kings Institute campus will be the referral hospital in case students need admission.
The health wing of the institution reported a few cases of typhoid over the past two weeks. Doctors suggested RT-PCR tests for some students who reported to clinics with flu-like symptoms. On April 19, a student with a cold, fever, and cough tested positive for Covid-19. The next day, the results of two more students returned positive.
On Wednesday, samples were drawn from 18 close contacts of the infected students, and nine of them tested positive. On Thursday, 666 samples were drawn from residents of three hostels – Mandakini, Sarayi, and Badra. Eighteen of them returned positive.
A senior official at the IIT-M said the institution has a 25-bedded hospital and is tied up with leading city hospitals. “We have 20 doctors available for any emergency. There is space for isolation in hostels. All students have been staying in single rooms and will continue to do so,” the official said.
The state has more than 1.1 lakh beds, and nearly 99% of the beds in almost all the districts are vacant.

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