Islamabad, Mar 24 (PTI) Pakistan has decided to keep the educational institutions closed until April 11 in coronavirus hotspot areas, Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood said on Wednesday.
Addressing a media briefing after a key meeting of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), Mahmood said authorities have reviewed the situation caused by infection in the country and decided to keep educational institutions in the hotspot areas shut till April 11.
'It was decided that educational institutions in selected areas, where restrictions were imposed previously, will continue to be closed till April 11,' he said.
The minister made it clear that educational institutions include schools, universities, academies, seminaries etc would be closed in designated areas.
He said that the situation in Sindh, Balochistan, and Gilgit Baltistan was relatively better as compared to the other parts of the country.
The educational institutions were closed from March 15 for two weeks in seven cities of Punjab including Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Lahore, Gujrat, Sialkot, Multan and Rawalpindi as well as in Peshawar and Islamabad.
However, in the latest decision the closure had been increased to nine cities of Punjab where Sargodha and Sheikupura were added to already seven cities.
In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in addition to Peshawar, nine cities including Mardan, Charsadda, Swabi, Kohat, Lower Dir, Malakand, Swat, Nowshera and Buner were added where schools will be closed.
He said that local board examinations will take place according to their timetable.
But the government will consult with the “Cambridge education board to see if we can move the exams forward'.
The decision to extend the closure of institutions came as the 3,301 new coronavirus cases were added in the last 24 hours, taking the national tally to 637,042, according to the ministry of National Health Services (NHS).
It said that 30 more patients died in the last one day and the number of Covid-19 toll reached 13,965.
However, a total of 586,228 people so far recovered. The number of active patients is 36,849 and positivity is 8.62 per cent.
The country had also expedited efforts to procure vaccine and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan said that several million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine are in the pipeline for April.
“Our Covid vaccine drive continues. Orders placed for purchase of Covid vaccines (Sinopharm, 1 million doses; CanSino, 60,000 doses). Arrival expected within days. Several million additional doses in pipeline for April,' he said on Twitter.
Sultan said that he had a productive conversation on Tuesday evening with WHO chief Dr Tedros on Covid-19 vaccine supply chain especially via GAVI to maintain an adequate and consistent availability, across the world.
“Grateful to him for his support and assurance,” he tweeted.
Separately, Pakistan rejected concerns by the Transparency International Pakistan (TIP) about allowing the private sector to import vaccines and use it on a commercial basis.
'It was a well concerned decision of the federal government to allow the private sector to import vaccine as the national vaccination priorities favoured the healthcare workers and the elderly, involving some lag in reaching other segments of the society,' the NHS Secretary, Aamir Ashraf Khawaja, said in a letter to the TIP. PTI SH RUP RUP