A school in Washim district of Maharashtra was sealed and declared a containment zone after 229 students tested positive for the coronavirus, amid a resurgence of infections in the state, the Hindustan Times reported. Four teachers and staff members were also found to be infected, said district Health Officer Avinash Aher.

Aher said that almost all students were asymptomatic. “Necessary treatment is being given to the patients,” the health official added. “Two doctors and other health workers have been deputed to treat the students.”

Collector Shanmugarajan S visited the school, and instructed the district health department to provide all necessary care to the students and the administration. He appointed Washim’s Assistant Collector Vaibhah Waghmare as the nodal officer to coordinate the efforts, the newspaper reported.

A total of 327 students reside in the hostel of the Bhavna Public School. Most of them are from Amravati and Yavatmal, two districts that have witnessed a sharp rise in coronavirus cases, according to NDTV.

Risod tehsildar Ajit Shelar told PTI that the students had joined the Washim hostel on February 14. Twenty-one students tested positive in the first few days, after which, the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction, or RT-PCR tests of all the 327 students were conducted, he said.

Washim had been in the news after a large gathering near a temple was held on February 23 in violation of Covid-19 protocols. Thousands of supporters of Shiv Sena minister Sanjay Rathod gathered there as he visited the shrine.

Maharashtra has seen a surge of Covid-19 cases in the past week, with 8,807 infections reported on Wednesday – the sharpest one-day rise in four months. Cases in Mumbai nearly doubled in comparison to Tuesday. This comes at a time when two new variants of the virus have been found in samples in the state’s Vidarbha region.

Since February 15, more than 2,400 Covid-19 cases have been reported in Amravati district, and 500 new cases in Yavatmal district. The state government imposed a ten-day lockdown in Yavatmal on February 18 and on February 21, it announced a strict week-long lockdown in Amravati.

Meanwhile in Amravati, researchers also detected the “E484 K” mutation in four infected samples. Since this mutation was found in the new, fast-spreading strains in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil, district officials were concerned that the variant could transmit quickly across Maharashtra and the country.

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