THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Amid coronavirus scare and triple lockdown in some parts of the state, over 1.03 lakh students are appearing for the Kerala Engineering, Architecture Medical (KEAM) entrance examination in 343 centres across the state and Delhi NCR, Mumbai and Dubai, on Thursday.
The exam is being held in the morning and afternoon sessions.
The morning session (Paper I - Physics and Chemistry) will be held from 10 am to 12.30 pm.
Paper II - Mathematics will be held from 2.30 pm and 5 pm. Students applying for the pharmacy course need to appear only for Paper I.
Even though 1.10 lakh candidates had registered for the exam only 1.03 lakh of them downloaded their hall tickets.
Candidates started arriving in the examination hall from 8 am owing to the stringent checks as part of the coronavirus prevention protocol.
Though KSRTC buses including 'bus-on-demand' facility was arranged for the candidates, most of them arrived via private means of transportation.
Triple lockdown has been imposed in critical containment zones in the coastal areas in the state, to stem the intense transmission of the virus.
Poonthura, in Thiruvananthapuram is one such zone, where a special exam centre was arranged for around 60 candidates from the area.
Fool proof arrangements
Authorities made elaborate arrangements for the examination including disinfection of the centres and deployment of around 3,000 volunteers to ensure implementation protocol.
Students will be allowed into examination halls after undergoing thermal screening.
Further, special rooms will be allotted for candidates with symptoms and those who are under observation for coronavirus.
The Commissioner for Entrance Examinations (CEE) has already issued a detailed set of guidelines to be followed by students to prevent the spread of the infection.
Controversy over exam
Meanwhile, conducting these entrance exams in the midst of a spurt in coronavirus has also triggered controversy as opposition parties had earlier urged the government to postpone the exam till the crisis eased.
Union Minister V Muraleedharan had written to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan pointing out that conducting the exam at this juncture would put students under grave risk.
He said the Centre had postponed the NEET exam to September in the wake of the pandemic.
However, Vijayan, who chaired a high level meeting on this, decided to go ahead with it in strict adherence to protocol.
Kerala had conducted the SSLC and Plus Two examinations in a similar scenario in the last week of May.
None of the students who appeared for these exams tested positive for coronavirus.