Millions flock to JEE exam centers in India – the world’s new COVID-19 epicenter

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Millions flock to exam centers in India - the world's new COVID-19 epicenter - We The World Magazine
Image courtesy of @NoExamsin2020 via Twitter

Millions of students appeared for the nation’s JEE exam (Mains) today, beginning the series of other exams of similar value which the nation conducts every year to churn out doctors and engineers.

But unlike other years, amid unprecedented times of a pandemic, there was dissent from students and political oppositions for conducting offline exams which involves millions of students to gather at exam centers across the nation.

JEE (Mains) and NEET are nationally-controlled exams for admission in different engineering and medical schools in India.

A plea by 11 students to defer the exams was rejected by the Supreme Court last week and it was ordered the exams be conducted following strict social distancing and other norms to curb the spread of the virus.

“Life cannot be stopped. We have to move ahead with safeguards and all… Are students ready to waste one whole year? COVID may continue for a year more,” Supreme Court Justice Arun Mishra said delivering the verdict.

Opposition parties and dissents for the exams feared gathering in exam centers across the nation will fan the spread of the virus, where new cases are steadily rising.

An estimated 2 million students flocked to different exam centers in India, on Tuesday, wearing masks and passing through sanitization and temperature-check stations.

Meanwhile, 69,921 new coronavirus infections were reported on Tuesday, taking the national total to 3.7 million – the third highest in the world, after Brazil and the US with most cases.

On Sunday, India surpassed the record held by the US of registering most number of new COVID-19 infections in a single day with 78,761 new cases, the world’s biggest, single-day tally.

A scene outside a JEE exam (Mains) center (Image courtesy of @NoExamsin2020 via Twitter)
Volunteers distributing PPE to JEE exam aspirants near exam centers on Sunday (Image courtesy of @nsui vi Twitter)

The Narendra Modi-led Central government is pushing to open the economy which has faced significant setbacks amid pandemic. India’s economy fell by a quarter in April-June, Reuters noted, tipping to more-than-expected recovery time.

Currently, India is under Unlock 4.0 where religious, political, sports, and certain entertainment congregations will be thrown open for the public in limited numbers.

Social media images show people entering mosques and temples clad in masks and passing though temperature and sanitization checks.

In Bangalore, pubs were opened after a six-month hiatus, with half the sitting capacity to maintain social distancing. Urban metro service will be started from September 7th as per the government notification of the new reopening order.

As of Monday’s report, over 12.75 lakh students have downloaded the NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test) admit cards, with a total of over 16 lakhs students ready to sit for the medical school test on the scheduled date – 13th September, Sunday.