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India holds college entrance exams despite COVID-19 concerns | India News



Millions of masked students filed into exam centres across India on Tuesday to take tests for admission to medical and engineering schools despite fears of a coronavirus spread.

At least 2 million students in the country will participate in the Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) for engineering colleges and the National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET) exams for medical colleges. While the JEE is being held between September 1 and 6, the NEET will be held on September 13.

Authorities have made face masks mandatory for students and physical distancing is being enforced to prevent the spread of the virus.

In various places, candidates had their temperature taken before entry to the exam venue.

The federal government had declined to defer the tests – already postponed twice this year – despite growing pressure from some students and opposition parties who feared rising infections as well as difficulty travelling to exam centres due to virus-linked curbs on transport.

“If (the exam) is delayed, then our whole year will be wasted … we don’t have any option,” a student appearing for the tests in the eastern city of Kolkata told the India Today news channel.

“So whatever maximum precautions we can take, which we are all following, I think it’s fine,” she said.

In an effort to avert more serious economic damage, India recently relaxed more restrictions and has announced that urban metro trains can resume services from September 7.

India’s economy shrank by nearly a quarter in April-June, data showed on Monday, much more than forecast and pointing to longer-than-expected time for recovery.

India, the world’s third-most affected country by the pandemic after the United States and Brazil, reported 69,921 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday, its lowest number in six days.

It took the overall number of cases to 3.69 million, while the death toll from COVID-19 rose by 819 to 65,288. On Sunday, India reported 78,761 new cases, the world’s biggest, single-day tally.

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