Two students who took the Kerala Engineering Architecture Medical (KEAM) entrance exam on July 16 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. They had taken the exams in two different centres of Thiruvananthapuram. The Opposition has alleged that exams were held despite appeals to postpone it in view of the recent spike in COVID-19 cases.
"As per the decision of Government, KEAM exam was conducted on 16.7.2020 in various centres in the district. Two students who had attended the exam and a parent had turned out to be Covid-positive," read a post on Facebook wall of Thiruvananthapuram District Collector Navjot Khosa's official page - used frequently to update people about COVID 19 related developments in the district.
One of the students is a 19-year-old secondary contact patient who took the exam in Hall B of Govt Teachers' Training College. The other is an 18-year-old who took the exam alone in a hall.
The parent who is Covid-positive had accompanied his son to the exam centre in Cotton Hill School and stayed on the premises till it got over. He was tested after he turned symptomatic.
According to the Collector, "All 20 students who wrote the exam in the same hall have been identified and directed to be in home quarantine. Invigilator and volunteers have been directed to be in home quarantine. All parents who stayed back during exam are directed to monitor for symptoms."
"If anyone develops symptoms they should immediately inform the local PHC or call 107," the post adds.
Union Minister of State V Muraleedharan and Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor, who had written to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to postpone these exams, criticised the state government's decision as "unwise" on Twitter today.
Students bearing the brunt of @VijayanPinarayi's ignorance & his govt's greed to score browny points on #COVID management. 2 students who gave #KEAM in TVPM tested #COVID19 +ve & don't know how many more would come to light @narendramodi@AmitShah@JPNadda@BJP4Keralam— V Muraleedharan (@VMBJP) July 21, 2020
Urging the UGC to not hold exams elsewhere in the country, Mr Tharoor wrote: "Kerala is already paying the price for the Govt's unwise decision, despite appeals from students & this MP, to (not) hold the #KEAM exams amid the lockdown."
On the day of the exam, a video with students and parents crowding at a centre in Thiruvanathapuram had gone viral.
The Minister for Higher Education KT Jaleel had earlier told NDTV, "Exams for Boards and colleges in Kerala were held at so many centres without any problem. What right does the Opposition have to criticise, when they protest in the open with no social distancing or masks."