The Supreme Court on Friday stayed the Kerala government’s decision to conduct offline exams for Class 11 from Monday amid the coronavirus pandemic, Live Law reported. The court said that the situation in Kerala is worrying as it accounts for most daily cases in India.

On Thursday, Kerala reported 32,097 new Covid-19 cases and 188 deaths, taking the state’s cumulative tally to 41,22,133. The state registered more than 30,000 cases for a third day in a row. The test positivity rate – the number of samples that test positive from the daily lot – stood at 18.41%. The toll rose to 21,149.

“There is [an] alarming situation in Kerala,” a bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar, Hrishikesh Roy and CT Ravikumar said. “It accounts for more than 70% cases of the country, with around 30,000 daily cases. Children of tender age can’t be exposed to risk.”

The court added: “Prima facie we find force in submission made by petitioner that the state government has not seriously considered the prevailing situation before having physical exam proposed to be conducted in September this year.”

It will next hear the case on September 13.

The court also noted that Kerala had not been able to contain the spread of coronavirus cases despite having “one of the best medical infrastructures in the country”, according to Live Law.

Justice CT Ravikumar said that allowing students from across the state to gather at exam centres could result in a super-spreader event.

The court was hearing a petition against the Kerala High Court’s refusal to interfere with the state government’s decision on holding physical exams.

The petitioner told the court that it was a huge risk to hold these offline exams since children have not yet been vaccinated. He added that around 3 lakh students were expected to take these exams.

But the Kerala government’s counsel said that the state had taken all precautions and cited earlier examples when exams were held without any problems. Advocate CK Sasi noted that 4 lakh students wrote offline exams for Class 10 and Class 12 in April.

To this, Khanwilkar asked if the state government could promise that no student will be infected. “These are children of tender age,” he told the state government’s counsel. “Even one case reported for a student, we will hold you accountable.”

“I cannot give that assurance,” Sasi said in response.

India on Friday morning recorded 45,352 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, pushing the infection tally in the country to 3,29,03,289 since the pandemic broke out in January last year. The new cases are 3.6% fewer than Thursday’s count of 47,092 infections. The toll rose to 4,39,895 after 366 deaths were reported in a span of 24 hours.

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