New Delhi: Medical entrance exam NEET began on Sunday amid strict precautions in view of the COVID-19 pandemic at over 3,800 centres across the country with students queuing up as per their designated time slots, adhering to social distancing norms
The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) began at 2 pm, but entry to centres started at 11 am. Students were allotted different slots for entry to ensure there is staggered movement and social distancing is maintained.
Over 15 lakh candidates have registered for NEET, which was earlier postponed twice in view of the pandemic.
Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ wished luck to the candidates appearing for the exam and assured that arrangements are in place for their safety.
“I wish luck to candidates appearing for NEET today. I am confident that students will appear for the exam with confidence and follow all guidelines. All states have made required arrangements to ensure hygiene and safety of students as per guidelines,” he tweeted.
Mohammad Ovais, who came from Moradabad to his exam centre in Dilshad Garden here, said his entry slot was at 11 am.
“I left from Moradabad at 5 am. It is not that risky if everybody follows all precautions, the problem arises when people take it casually. There was no crowding at the centres as everybody had designated slots,” he said.
Vanhika Chaurasia, a resident of Rohini said, “Online exam would have been a better option than a pen and paper-based test but we have no option. More delay in exams would have caused loss of a year”.
For Yuvraj Kumar, the bigger concern was travelling by public transport.
“Thankfully metro services resumed before the exam because I was concerned about that and other modes of public transport are not as safe. We were given separate masks at the centre and we had to dispose the one we were wearing before,” he said.
Ajmal Ismail, who is appearing for the exam at a Mayur Vihar centre said, “More than the coronavirus it was the anxiety whether exams are happening or will still be postponed, that caused me more stress. I have done my preparation well and taken all precautions.”
Till Saturday 5 pm more than 15 lakh of the 15.97 lakh registered candidates downloaded their admit cards.
Various state governments had announced free transportation and accommodation, including West Bengal that ran special metro service for candidates.
The exam has been postponed twice due to the pandemic and the government decided to go ahead with the exams, despite opposition, to mitigate any further academic loss.
The National Testing Agency (NTA) has set in place strict standard operating procedures (SOPs) in view of the pandemic, including measures like reducing the number of candidates per room from the earlier 24 to 12.
The NTA has also increased the number of centres from 2,546 in 2019 to 3,862 this year to ensure crowd management and staggered entry and exit protocols. Unlike the engineering entrance (JEE), NEET-UG, the medical admission test, is a pen and paper exam and held once a year.
Accordingly, the NTA has changed centres for a few candidates this week in compliance with social distancing norms and COVID restrictions. However, the city of the exam centre hasn’t been changed for any candidate. The centres which had more than 900 candidates are distributed into two centres.
While all the candidates were asked to go to the exam centres with masks and sanitisers, once they entered the centre, they were asked to use the three-ply masks provided by the examination authority.
The NEET-UG was originally scheduled for May 3, but was pushed to July 26 and then scheduled for September 13. (PTI)
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