A medical college in Karnataka's Dharwad has become a COVID-19 cluster after the number of students and staff infected with coronavirus went up to 182 today from 66 a day before, officials said.
Most of the people infected at the SDM College of Medical Sciences in Dharwad were fully vaccinated against coronavirus, officials said, adding that a recent freshers' party organised inside the campus led to the outbreak.
On Thursday, the Covid test result of 66 fully vaccinated students and staff of the college had turned out to be positive following testing of over 300 students. More people from the college are being tested today.
The samples of the infected people will be sent for genome sequencing. "The students were fully vaccinated... We will be sending a few samples for genome sequencing to check if there's a new variant," state health commissioner D Randeep said.
The health commissioner said a freshers' party at the college on November 17 is responsible for the outbreak.
Chairman of Manipal Hospital and member of Covid task force team in Karnataka Dr Sudarshan Ballal said the Covid cluster is a cause of concern.
"There was a large cluster that has turned to be positive and all of them were at an event. This means the variant of this virus is infectious. Second concern, all the students were fully vaccinated which means there is a immune escape phenomena," he said.
However, he said, the disease is not severe. "But happening at this juncture is certainly concerning to us... We should go back to stringent Covid behavior," he added.
Genomic sequencing will help decide on the new kind of variant, Dr Ballal said.
The infected have been put under quarantine inside the campus itself and the two hostels have been sealed as a precautionary measure, officials said.
"Most of them have got both doses of the vaccine. All of them have been isolated in the campus itself," Dr Yashwant, district health officer of Hubli-Dharwad, said.
The Covid positive patients have mild or no symptoms and are undergoing treatment inside the campus, officials said.
The state health department has decided to test around 3,000 staff and students at the college and hospital (clinical and non-clinical) today. At least 1,000 people have been tested till now, and their reports are awaited.
Karnataka is among the several states where the number of Covid cases has decreased in the last few weeks. The state reported 306 new cases today, with a positivity rate of 0.36 per cent.