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As pandemic reaches PU, staff express concern for their safety

Meanwhile, after the 42-year-old PU staffer from Maloya, who worked at Hostel No 10 in the university’s south campus, tested positive, the Dean Student Welfare office was closed on Sunday and 14 staff members were quarantined.

Written by Chahat Rana | Chandigarh | Published: June 30, 2020 9:33:29 am
As pandemic reaches PU, staff express concern for their safety The staffer from Malloya had also visited the Health Centre on the campus on June 23 with flu-like symptoms, but was not referred for COVID testing.

A 60-year-old woman from Sector 29, whose daughter and her family reside on Panjab University (PU) campus, tested positive for Covid-19 on Monday.

In the past five days, two sisters, one from Sector 29 and another from Maloya, both employees at PU, tested positive for Covid-19. With an increasing number of employees getting exposed to the disease, members of both teaching and non-teaching staff at the university are concerned about their safety on the campus and worried that the administration is not doing enough to prevent the further spread.

On Wednesday, after a 37-year-old re-evaluation branch employee was diagnosed with Covid-19, the university shut down the administrative block and the Aruna Ranjit Chandra Hall and quarantined 30 employees who were in contact with the 37-year-old.

Meanwhile, after the 42-year-old PU staffer from Maloya, who worked at Hostel No 10 in the university’s south campus, tested positive, the Dean Student Welfare office was closed on Sunday and 14 staff members were quarantined.

“However, that is not enough to reassure staff members. Contact tracing needs to be more aggressive. The varsity staffers visit several places on campus everyday, besides frequenting their offices, thus, simply quarantining the office staff and closing the office space for sanitisation is not enough,” says Professor Rajesh Gill, PU Teachers’ Association (PUTA) President.

The staffer from Malloya had also visited the Health Centre on the campus on June 23 with flu-like symptoms, but was not referred for COVID testing.

“She came with flu like symptoms and three staff members who were in contact with her from the centre have been quarantined,” says Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for the Health Centre Dr Rupinder Kaur.

“Her symptoms were not distinguished enough to suggest a likelihood of COVID at that point,” adds Kaur. Meanwhile, the OPD services at the center continue as usual.

“A lot of staffers are relatives and family members here at PU. They keep intermingling, so it is likely that the infection has spread further than we know and transmission is already occurring within the community here. It is high time that the administration becomes pro-active, rather than waiting for more cases to crop up,” says Deepak Kaushik, the head of the union for non-teaching employees.

The 60-year-old patient’s son lives with her in Sector 29 and has been sampled for the disease. However, her family members who reside at PU are yet to be sampled, as the UT health department refuses to sample asymptomatic contacts. A total of three UT residents tested positive for Covid-19, taking the tally of patients to 434.

As many as four patients were discharged and nine completed their home isolation period in the city, deeming 13 as recovered and reducing the number of active cases in the UT to 79.

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