Planning minister Asad Umar says decision taken based on reduced spread of coronavirus and ongoing vaccination drive in educational institutions
The National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) on Thursday decided to allow educational institutions across Pakistan to resume normal classes from Oct. 11 on the basis of a marked decline in new coronavirus infections.
“Based on the reduced level of disease spread and the launch of the school vaccination program, it has been decided in today’s NCOC meeting to allow all educational institutions to start normal classes from Monday, Oct. 11,” Planning Minister Asad Umar announced on Twitter. On Friday, Pakistan reported less than 1,000 cases of the novel coronavirus for the first time since June 29; a day earlier, it reported just 1,453 cases against a positivity ratio of 2.8%.
Since the advent of the fourth wave of COVID-19, authorities had directed educational institutions to operate at a 50 percent, alternating capacity after they had been allowed to reopen under strict SOPs. Under these measures, students could only attend schools every other day, with individuals classes divided by half to reduce crowding in classrooms.
During the same meeting, the NCOC also directed provincial governments to expedite their respective vaccination drives to ensure the pandemic did not surge once again. It said that that the forum had devised a comprehensive plan, in collaboration with the National Database and Registration Authority and district administrations, to target areas that had been lagging in vaccination.
On Friday, Special Assistant to the P.M. on Health Dr. Faisal Sultan told media that students aged 12 and above would not be allowed to attend classes from Oct. 31 if they had not received at least one dose of vaccines. Similarly, he added, eligible students would be required to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 30 to continue attending classes.
“You must have seen that cases increased whenever schools were opened … it is very important that we give special attention to vaccinating children in schools,” he said, stressing that the disease could not be eradicated if all segments of society were not vaccinated against it.
According to the NCOC, Pakistan reported a positivity ratio of 1.99 percent on Friday against 26 deaths and 1,633 recoveries. Overall, the country currently has 43,648 active cases of COVID-19, with 2,761 patients requiring critical care.