Over 60 children in India fell sick after eating their mid-day meal at a government school.

The incident took place in the southern state of Karnataka. News reports said a dead lizard was found inside the rice and sambar (lentil and vegetable soup) that was served to the children. The students reportedly started vomiting after having lunch, and were later sent to a nearby healthcare facility.

The students of Vadakehalla village school have started recovering and are doing well, officials told The Times of India.

Manjunath S.M., Deputy Director of Public Instruction, told The Indian Express an early investigation revealed a lizard had fallen into the meal when it was being served. A cook discovered the lizard in the sambar, and immediately alerted the students to stop eating.

“The students were immediately shifted to the nearest primary health centres in Hanoor, Rampura and Koudhahalli and are now doing fine... if we find any negligence on the part of the teacher or cook, we will initiate action," Manjunath said. 

The Department of Public Instruction has organized a meeting with parents and school administrators over the incident. 

Recently, a similar incident took place in the state, where at least 80 students in the Government Primary school of Venkatapura Tanda village fell sick after eating lunch that was found to have a dead lizard inside it. The condition of two of the children was said to be critical at the time. Eyewitnesses at the time said that one of the boys found the dead lizard in his food and started vomiting. After a while, many other students started complaining of health issues. 

Mid-day meal is served to children in government and government-aided schools in India. On Nov. 28 2001, the Supreme Court of India passed a mandate stating, "We direct the State Governments/Union Territories to implement the Mid Day Meal Scheme by providing every child in every Government and Government assisted Primary School with a prepared midday meal."

Meanwhile, schools in several districts, including the state's capital city, Bengaluru, have been closed due to an increase in COVID-19 cases. On Tuesday, Karnataka reported 14,473 new Covid-19 infections and five fatalities. More than 190,000 cases were reported in India in the last 24 hours, a 15.8 percent rise from the previous day's 168,000 cases

india school Schools have been shut for over a year in India, and there are fears the closure will hit students from less privileged families the hardest Photo: AFP / Diptendu DUTTA