At a South India-based engineering college chain, the final placements are on in full swing. However, a more pressing issue at hand for the management is to ensure all students are screened for Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Students with symptoms of fever, cold/cough and sudden respiratory problems have been told to contact government hospitals for tests. This step was taken after an Italian exchange student returned home after complaining of an illness.
“We have postponed the placement process because getting students screened is an urgent need,” the deputy director of the educational body told Moneycontrol, adding that the name of the institute should be kept anonymous to prevent panic.
Two more institutes, based in Maharashtra and Telangana, have also asked their students to get screened. They too requested their names to be not disclosed.
Though there is no mandate yet from the Centre, educational institutes in India with a high number of exchange students from places like China, Italy, Iran and South Korea are nudging suspected students to get tested.
It is estimated that 45,000 international students study in higher education institutes across India. South East Asian countries are said to account a large chunk of the students.
Three fresh cases of COVID-19 have been reported in India, two being Indians and one an Italian tourist. A school in Noida has been shut for sanitising the building premises. The government said that six cases with high viral load have been detected during sample testing in Agra.
Students from international institutes are studying in India either as part of an educational exchange or as full-time students.
The health ministry has said that visas granted to nationals of Italy, Iran, South Korea, Japan (issued before March 3) and who have not yet entered India, stands suspended with immediate effect. The travel ban on Chinese nationals continue. However, the bigger problem is with students and tourists who are already in India.
“In public spaces like colleges, there is a higher tendency for the virus to spread. Hence, precautionary measures are being taken including advising students from certain markets to stay in their home country as also screening those in India,” said the dean of a Maharashtra based management school.
Sources told Moneycontrol engineering, medical and management schools having international students through exchange programmes are te ones conducting tests.
Each state has an assigned laboratory which will test COVID-19 cases. These tests are done free of cost.