Part of St Stephen's College campus out of bounds after 13 students, 2 staffers test COVID positive

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New Delhi, Apr 3 (PTI) The St Stephen's College campus' 'inner perimeter' has been rendered out of bounds after 13 resident students and two staffers tested COVID-19 positive, according to a notice issued by the institute's principal.

The notice, issued on Friday, said necessary and stringent measures have been put in place by the dean's office to ensure isolation and social distancing for 'all residents'.

The dean of residence-cum-college chaplain and mass steward (security officer), both of whom have tested positive for the coronavirus, had taken a group of students, including hostellers, of the Delhi college for an educational trip to Dalhousie in Himachal Pradesh in the last week of March.

'The inner perimeter of the college is out of bounds for all, unless specific clearance is given by the principal on a case by case basis. The outer perimeter of the college may be accessed by those with relevant and regular work after due process at the security counter,' the notice read.

'Faculty who are scheduled to come to college may defer their coming till a notification informs them of an improvement in the condition,' it read.

On Friday, St Stephen's College governing body member Nandita Narain wrote to the college's principal, John Varghese, asking several questions related to the reports of students testing COVID-19 positive and the Dalhousie trip.

In the letter, Narain also asked whether the college administration took permission from the University of Delhi and the state government for the trip or opening hostels and allowing 'over 200' students to return in the last few months.

'Why was this trip organised by the college officials in the times of COVID pandemic? Was the trip authorised by the principal? Was the consent of parents of the students taken for going on this trip? Was the permission of the University of Delhi and the state government taken for organising such a trip in pandemic times?' the governing body member asked.

In his reply, Varghese, besides confirming the positive test reports of the students and the staff members, said the trip in question was authorised by him and that the consent of students' parents was also taken for the same.

'As for the other questions, I shall answer them when I have a little more time to spare. You will agree that handling the situation is the priority now. Please be informed that the Dean's Office is aware of the situation and necessary steps have already been taken in consultation with medical and civic authorities,' he wrote to Narain.

The national capital has been seeing a surge in cases.

Delhi recorded 3,594 fresh cases of COVID-19 on Friday, the highest daily count this year while 14 more people died due to the coronavirus infection, taking the toll to 11,050, according to the health department.

The positivity rate also mounted to 4.11 per cent from 3.57 per cent a day before, amid a massive surge in cases in the span of the last few weeks.

In Himachal Pradesh, the cumulative cases stand at 60,026 and active cases at 3,338, while the death toll is 1,056, according to the Union Health Ministry. PTI MG ANB ANB