The Bindura University of Science Education (BUSE) on Monday controversially commenced examinations despite a Covid-19 outbreak at the institution.

The university ignored pleas to postpone examinations after 19 of the 30 students tested were found to be infected with the virus.

Negotiations between students and BUSE’s administration to postpone examinations collapsed after the latter declared the environment was “conducive to conduct examinations ignoring the ripple effects of contagious pandemic,” according to one student.

“Students are writing examinations in a climate of fear after the university declared that we should continue writing examinations in the middle of a Covid outbreak,” the student said, speaking on condition they were not named.

The university is also accused of stopping testing “fearing that it would cause alarm and panic.”

“It appears the institution’s management is more worried about conducting examinations than the welfare of both students and the staff,” the person added.

On Thursday last week, dozens of students went to the local clinic complaining of fever, sore throat and coughing. Twelve male students and seven female students tested positive for Covid-19 after tests.

BUSE’s administration is accused of stopping testing so as to conduct examinations without facing resistance.

The 19 students that tested positive are living in the Newsite hostel with other students who were not tested but in different rooms. The 19 are writing examinations separately from students that have not been tested.

“The university’s administration has put our lives at risk by forcing us to stay in the same hostel with students who tested positive for Covid-19,” another student said.

“As we speak BUSE has not deployed anyone to monitor if adequate social distancing and quarantine measures are effectively being practised. To make matters worse, we occasionally brush shoulders, and use the same facilities with students who tested positive and this is likely to spread the virus given that we write examinations on the main campus where we mingle with other students believed to be negative.”

BUSE’s dean of students Crispen Mazodze declined to comment and referred all questions to the registrar Stennly Chitera who also declined to comment.

The ministry of higher and tertiary education said: “As a ministry we advise universities to follow their Covid-19 standard operating procedures. They are also expected to work with ministry of health officials in the province in any Covid-19 related decisions they take.”

Examinations are set to end this Friday but the repercussions of BUSE negligently conducting examinations during a Covid-19 outbreak could be felt in weeks to come.

Zimbabwe is bracing for a fourth wave of Covid-19 infections fuelled by the Omicron variant which was first identified by South African scientists.