Pakistan has said there is no plan to shut down educational institutions again, amidst a simmering fear that a second wave coupled with winter season could reverse the gains against the pandemic in the country.
Last month, Pakistan reopened all educational institutions which remained shut for nearly six months due to the coronavirus pandemic. Both private and public schools were opened under strict restriction and were told by the authorities to follow the standard operating procedures to contain the spread of the contagious virus.
"With the blessing of Almighty Allah, we are in a position to send our children to schools. The decision of closing schools during the outbreak was a good assessment, which has saved our education sector and now we have no intention to close educational institutions again,” education minister Shafqat Mahmood said on Thursday.
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday had warned that a rise in COVID-19 infections could be expected in winter. In its meeting on Thursday, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) — the nerve centre to synergise and articulate unified national effort against COVID-19 — noted a ”slight increase” in the positivity rate in the country.
Positivity rate is the percentage of positive results out of the total number of tests sampled. The NCOC also expressed concern that cases of violation of COVID-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs) are on the rise. Mahmood rejected reports and rumours that education institutions could be closed amidst an increase in the positivity rate.
Meanwhile, the nationwide coronavirus tally reached 317,595 on Friday after 661 new cases were reported in the last 24 hours, the health ministry said. Eight more people succumbed to the deadly viral infection overnight, taking the death toll to 6,552, it said, adding that 302,708 people have recovered so far from the disease. Sindh reported the maximum number of 139,571 cases, followed by Punjab at 100,330, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa at 38,219, Islamabad at 17,122, Balochistan at 15,480, Gilgit-Baltistan at 3,893 and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir at 2,980.