Over 10,000 students appeared in the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) in Gautam Budh and Ghaziabad on Sunday as the National Testing Agency (NTA) staff deployed at 17 centres in the two cities ensured that social distancing protocols are followed by the candidates.

Jyoti Gupta, principal, Delhi Public School, Sahibabad, and city coordinator for Noida-Greater Noida chapter of NEET said that the examination—a gateway for admissions to MBBS/BDS courses in recognised medical colleges and institutes—went smoothly at all the centers. “We had made an elaborate arrangement so that Covid-19 safety protocols are followed. The applicants also maintained social distancing and reached the exam centres in allotted staggered timings. We also did not find any candidate with fever or high temperature at any of the exam centres,” she said.

Gupta said that nearly 5,800 students took the exam in Gautam Budh Nagar centres, while 4,400 students appeared in Ghaziabad. She added that nearly 12% students did not turn up at the allotted centers in Gautam Budh Nagar, and 11% of the students who were supposed to sit in the exam in Ghaziabad were absent on Sunday.

The NEET exam was originally scheduled for May 3, but in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, it was first pushed to July 26, and then to September 13.

There were two NEET exam centres in Noida – Cambridge School Noida in Sector 27, and Kendriya Vidyalaya in Sector 24, while seven in Greater Noida and eight in Ghaziabad.

At Cambridge School, the body temperatures of all candidates was checked first and they were frisked with contactless metal detectors as per the guidelines issued by the ministry of health and family welfare. Admit cards with original government ID proof such Aadhaar card was a must for entry as per NTA rules.

A number of parents and guardians had come to drop their children at the examination centres where loudspeakers were used to inform students to not bring mobile phones, pen drives earphones, calculator, purse, notebook, watch, jewellery, eatables etc inside the examination hall.

Naresh Kumar Gupta, an invigilator at Kendriya Vidyalaya Sector 24, said the NTA had asked candidates to enter the exam centres as per the staggered time slots allotted to them. “We had placed markings on the entry gate to ensure candidates adhere to physical distancing. The entry for the exam, which went on from 2pm to 5pm, started at 11am onwards and there was no crowding at the centre,” he said. The NTA also provided new face mask and pens to all the students who appeared in the examination.

Some students said that the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic had disrupted academic studies in the last six months. Shipra Srivastava, a NEET candidate said, “The coronavirus affected the students’ studies to a huge extent. For the last six months almost, (offline) coaching classes have shut down. There was also uncertainty as to whether the exam will be conducted this year or not. The NTA had made elaborate safety arrangements, still, students had apprehensions about appearing in the exam and then reach home safely without carrying the virus with them.”

Concerns about contracting the infection was a concern among other students as well. “I came to Moradabad district to Noida to take the exam. It is difficult to drive from my hometown to Noida and appear in the exam amid the pandemic. I was concerned about my health” said Mohammad Lukman, a candidate. Several candidates had come from other districts in western Uttar Pradesh to appear in the NEET exam in Ghaziabad and Gautam Budh Nagar district.

Adhiraj Srivastava, a Gaur City resident and Shilpa’s brother who had come to drop her to the exam centre, said that the government should have postponed the examination till a vaccine against the virus was available in the market.

As on Sunday, Gautam Budh Nagar had recorded a total of 10,192 Covid-19 cases, while Ghaziabad’s tally was at 10, 787.

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