A Grim Reminder—COVID 19 Outbreak in the MIT Campus
DISCLAIMER – These are the views of students living on campus who have chosen to remain anonymous. The MIT Post appreciates their help in giving us some insight into the situation inside the hostel blocks.
An unfortunate and steep rise in COVID cases among the students living in the hostels of Manipal Institute of Technology has led to the campus being declared as a containment zone until further notice. The Post interviewed a few students who experienced the developments in the campus to learn more about the current situation.
What is the procedure once a student has been tested positive?
Students are required to quarantine in their rooms on the day of the RT-PCR test, designated as day 0. Once a student has been tested positive, they are to pack their essentials and isolate in their room until arrangements are made for an ambulance. The ambulance drops them off at a quarantine centre where they are required to quarantine for 17 days, after which they are allowed to leave the premises upon receiving a discharge summary. Primary contacts are informed and will be tested for COVID 19.
How are the students being managed at the quarantine centres?
At the quarantine centres, the students were asked to isolate themselves in either single or double rooms. Their vitals were checked at least twice a day by medical staff from KMC. Doctors were allocated to each quarantine block for dealing with any medical emergency. Students were provided with daily medication and four meals a day from the mess. After their quarantine period, they are either moved to the Sonia block or the Raman block, which come under KMC hostels. They can also choose to live in their own hostel blocks.
How did the college handle the outbreak?
After an initial setback due to the steep rise in cases, it took 2-3 days to receive the result of a person’s RT-PCR test. Students had to visit NLH in order to get tested, and they were only being tested if they showed symptoms. However, after the hostels were declared a containment zone and quarantine blocks were set up, the college was able to test all of its students and faculty members in a short span of time.
The numbers are scary but fortunately, the majority of cases on campus aren’t severe. The students who have tested positive are either asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic. The professors were a huge help in allaying the fears of the parents, who were obviously concerned about the situation. They frequently checked up on the students to offer them any assistance they might need. If someone urgently needed any medicine or emergency supplies, the caretakers would oblige and get them the necessary supplies. If a person showed severe symptoms, they were taken to KMC or TMA Pai hospital where adequate medical attention would be provided by the doctors and nurses.
What steps could be taken for students to go back to their regular routine in Manipal in the foreseeable future?
If certain precautions are taken, it is possible to go back to our regular routine in the foreseeable future. The labs can be offline and theory classes can be conducted online. Wearing masks and social distancing rules should be strictly enforced inside the campus. College should conduct routine tests on the campus for suspected cases.
The campus gates can be sealed at a slightly earlier time in the evening to reduce the chances of a person coming into contact with the virus outside. Mess timings should be staggered so that crowding can be avoided in the food courts and the messes. The students should also be more aware of their responsibilities and follow these precautions for their own safety and others’ safety. Many of us are disheartened at the current situation and we hope that we can return to normal as soon as possible.
Why do you think the number of cases increased at such a rapid rate on campus?
Although students made it a point to wear masks whenever they went outside campus or hostel rooms, many of them did not take enough precautions needed during times of a pandemic. Post their end semester examinations, they enthusiastically went out in huge groups which resulted in a lot of students contracting the virus and an increase in the number of cases. This, unfortunately, coincided with the second wave which is causing a huge surge in cases in many parts of India. However, living in such close quarters with common facilities like messes, bathrooms, and sports made an outbreak inevitable.
How are you, the other students, and faculty members dealing with the current predicament of living inside a containment zone?
We are understandably distressed due to the rise in the number of cases. We are not able to step outside as the campus has become a containment zone. The place feels empty because a large number of students have returned home after obtaining a negative RT-PCR report. Students who have stayed back are feeling lonely and powerless due to the constant uncertainty of the situation. It has been quite stressful for the faculty members as they are worried, not just about themselves but also about the safety of their families inside the containment zone. Yet they have taken time to call and check up on the students frequently.
Due to the outbreak, many were forced to go back home to less than ideal conditions in just over a month of coming back. The ones who have tested negative are anxious as they can be a primary contact or can test positive anytime. We all hope that with time and precautions, the situation improves and Manipal can function normally again.
Image credits – Soumya A R