In a concerning development, 77 students and faculty members of SDM College of Medical Sciences in Dharwad, Karnataka, have been further tested positive for COVID-19, taking the tally to 281 at the institute. Those infected have been quarantined and given treatment.
Those infected at the medical college were fully vaccinated against coronavirus, the NDTV quoted officials as saying. However, the vaccine has been known to reduce severity of a COVID-19 infection when one contracts the virus. Thus, so far, the infected persons have not shown serious symptoms and many are asymptomatic. Only six people are symptomatic among the 281 infected.
These cases are being called “breakthrough infections”, indicating an immune escape by the virus even after two shots of the vaccine. However, the records of the students and staff are being verified to ensure everyone received two doses of the vaccine as mandated.
Two hostels on the campus have been sealed and the infected students are undergoing treatment in their hostel rooms, according to reports.
Large number of the infected persons are first-year students as a recent freshers' party that took place for at least two days starting November 17 on campus reportedly led to the infection outbreak, turning SDM College of Medical Sciences into a COVID hotspot.
The medical college, a tertiary care centre, is considered the medical hub of north Karnataka. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the hospital has suspended any new patient admission, the NDTV reported. The entry and exit of the hospital have been blocked and among admitted patients, only the ones testing negative will be discharged.
As a result of the outbreak, the administration has taken a preventive measure of declaring a holiday has in educational institutions in a radius of 500 metres near the college till Sunday. Eight ambulances have also been kept ready near the college, Deputy Commissioner Nitish Patul told TOI.
After the SDM College of Medical Sciences in Karnataka's Dharwad had reported 66 positive cases, the district administration tested more people including students, staff and primary contacts of infected students. As many as 116 of them tested positive on Friday, and 77 on Saturday.
District Health Officer Dr Yashwanth A Madinkar told The Indian Express that around 3,000 total samples will be sent for COVID test from the medical college.
State health commissioner D Randeep told NDTV that 113 positive samples have been sent to Strand Life Sciences Pvt. Ltd, Bangalore for Genome Sequencing and the results are expected by December 1. The Genome Sequencing will help determine the virus variant in this case.
Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Saturday hinted at putting in place certain precautionary measures to control the spread of virus, the PTI reported. There are increasing worries about another wave of infections amid the threats of new variant 'Omicron'.
The state government has already issued guidelines for those travelling from certain foreign countries, where the new variant is prevalent, aimed at checking its spread.
"We have observed the COVID spread at schools, colleges and hostels in Dharwad, Bengaluru and Bengaluru rural areas, and increase in cases in neighbouring Kerala. We have to immediately take precautionary measures to control it, so I have called a meeting of Health, disaster management officials, also COVID advisers and experts. We will also discuss about new strain." Bommai was quoted by PTI as saying.