Covid hits AMU hard, 8 deaths in a week

In the past seven days, the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) has lost three faculty members and five retired professors to Covid.

Thirty faculty and staff members have tested positive and have been admitted to AMU’s Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, as have 12 consultants, 20 resident doctors and some paramedical staff members of the medical college.

AMU officials said noted critic and senior faculty member at the department of Urdu, Prof Maula Bakhsh Ansari, 58, faculty member of the Sunni theology section, Prof Ehsanullah Fahad, 50, and in-charge of leather and footwear technology section at University Polytechnic AMU and Saeed Uzzaman, 51, were serving faculty members who have passed away in the past two days.

“Prof Ansari had been admitted to a private hospital and died within a few days on Wednesday. He had not been tested for Covid-19, but he had symptoms of the disease,” said former director of the Urdu Academy AMU, Rahat Abrar.

Ansari had been working on six projects of books on stylistics, critical studies and cultural studies. They are yet to be published.

Fahad, meanwhile, had been admitted to AMU’s medical college for Covid-19 treatment. “After his report came negative, he was moved to the non-Covid ward. But he died two days later of post-Covid complications,” medical college principal Prof Shahid Ali Siddiqui said.

A day later, Uzzaman passed away. “His Covid-19 test report was negative but he had symptoms like fever and cough. He died in Meerut, where he had gone to attend his mother’s cremation,” principal of University Polytechnic Prof Arshad Umar said.

Five retired faculty members have also died with Covid-19-related complications in the past one week.

They are Prof Rizwan Husain, 84 (English), Prof Vakeel Jafari, 90 (physics), Prof Humayun Murad, 80 (zoology), Prof Saeeduz Zafar, 75 (former chairperson of the department of psychology), and Prof Iqbal Ali, 70 (former principal, University Polytechnic AMU).

“Rizwan died of a cardiac arrest but had been in isolation at home after his daughter-in-law tested positive. His wife and son, too, have been infected,” Husain’s brother-in-law Prof Syed Ali Nadeem Rezavi, also a faculty member at AMU, said.

On Monday, Jafari passed away. “My father was in Delhi at the time. He had fever and congestion,” his son Rehan Jafari said.

Two days later, on Wednesday, Murad died with similar complications. “He had been admitted to a private hospital with fever and weakness. When his condition started deteriorating, he was referred to the (AMU) medical college, where he tested positive for Covid-19. He died within two days of admission,” former media adviser of AMU Jaseem Mohammad said.

Iqbal, on the other hand, died a day later in Kanpur. “He had been admitted to the hospital with a complaint of fever and throat ulcer. He passed away within a day,” a senior faculty member at the University Polytechnic said.

With a spate of such cases, those associated with university faculty bodies have sought an upgrade in Covid-19 support facilities.

“We urgently need to increase the number of oxygen beds and ventilators and (step up) deployment of medical staff,” Aftab Alam, former secretary of the AMU Teachers’ Association and former member of the AMU Executive Council wrote in an open letter to the university and medical college administrations.

“We also need to create dedicated facilities for teachers and university staff,” he stated.