The Government on Thursday announced postponement of the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test for Post Graduate courses (NEET-PG). The examination was scheduled to take place on Sunday, April 18.

Around 1.7 lakh students were expected to take the examination. Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said a new date would be announced later.

"In light of the surge in Covid-19 cases, the Government of India has decided to postpone the NEET-PG 2021 exam, which was earlier scheduled to be held on April 18. Next date to be decided later" he said in a tweet, clarifying that the decision has been taken keeping in mind the well-being of young medical students.

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News of the postponement came shortly after it emerged that a group of student doctors had moved the Supreme Court asking for postponement of the exam. A bench headed by Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde was set to hear the matter tomorrow. The petitioners said forcing doctors, who treat Covid-19 patients on a daily basis, to attend a physical exam would put thousands of lives at risk.

They also referred to the Centre's decision to cancel the CBSE Class 10 exams, and postpone the Class 12 exams, that were scheduled to commence from May 4. Those exams were cancelled and postponed after an outcry by students, parents, medical experts and opposition leaders. Over the past few weeks, a similar outcry has been raised by NEET candidates, with "#postponeneetpg" trending online and a signature campaign set up online.

Earlier today, DMK chief MK Stalin, whose party is a vocal critic of the NEET system, also spoke out.

"With increasing cases and fatalities, and when our doctors are fighting hard against all odds, is this the right time to hold NEET for PG courses," Mr Stalin tweeted in Tamil.