MALAPPURAM: In a worrying development, 187 students and 78 staff of Maranchery Government Higher Secondary School and Vannery Higher Secondary School in Perumbadappu panchayat in Malappuram tested positive for Covid-19 on Sunday.
According to the district health department, the tests were conducted among the students and teachers of these schools after a Class X student at Maranchery school tested positive for the disease on February 1.
“After the student tested positive for the disease, three teachers at the school showed symptoms of the disease. Then, the health department collected samples from 582 students and 50 staff including teachers at the school last Friday. Of them, 148 students and 50 staff members tested positive,” the department said in a press release.
After this, the department also collected the samples of students and staff members of nearby Vannery Higher Secondary School.
“Of the samples collected from 49 students at Vannery school, 39 tested positive and 39 employees were also found to be infected,” it added.
District Medical Officer K Sakeena said the health department has taken measures to stop the virus spread in the two schools and surrounding areas.
“Covid tests of the people who have come in contact with the infected persons in the schools will be conducted soon,” Sakeena said.
The authorities of both schools said they had held classes following the Covid protocol. “Only a limited number of students were accommodated inside each classroom. After a student tested positive for the disease, the health department took immediate measures to test the other students,” said an official.
Officials of the health department said the development should be taken as a warning by students, staff and other people in the state.
“It is the responsibility of the people, including students, to protect themselves from the virus through appropriate behaviour -- wearing face masks and keeping physical distancing. The people, especially students, should be more careful to avoid the infection,” said an official with the health department.
Meanwhile, Opposition parties slammed the state government and health department for the virus spread in the two schools.
“The state government had created a fake Covid prevention model for publicity. It should take proper measures to protect our students from the virus at least now,” said Youth Congress Malappuram district president Shaji Pacheri.