KARACHI: Amid a dramatic surge in fresh coronavirus cases following a steep decline, Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho on Thursday warned against reopening of schools while Education Minister Saeed Ghani insisted on opening schools by September 28 and Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah saying that the situation was under review.
Speaking to a news channel, the health minister said the positivity rate “has increased from 1.5 per cent to 3 per cent” and that it would be unwise to reopen schools at this stage.
The statement comes as the provincial government gears up to reopen schools middle schools from September 28 which were earlier scheduled to resume classes from September 21.
The Sindh government had decided to postpone the reopening fearing a resurgence of cases. However, classes from six to eight were resumed across the country from September 23 after approval from the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC).
“A second wave of coronavirus has been predicted in the current situation,” Pechuho said, adding that she had reservations about reopening of the educational institutes.
“Do not rush to open primary schools! Primary schools must be given at least one to one-and-a-half month to reopen,” the minister warned.
“It would be right to send children to school only when the situation [related to the coronavirus pandemic] is clear,” she added.
However, in spite of the warnings, Sindh Education Minister Saeed Ghani announced that both lower secondary and primary classes will resume on September 28, and directed relevant authorities to ensure implementation of standard operating procedures (SOPs).
NCOC had earlier this week permitted schools across the country to resume in-person classes for sixth to eighth grade, but Ghani delayed the opening of schools from 23 September to 28 September. Primary school classes are set to resume from 30 September.
However, Sindh CM Syed Murad Ali Shah said on Thursday that the provincial government will review the situation about the second phase of reopening of the schools in the province on September 28.
“Children are the future of our country and parents and teachers should ensure enforcement of SOPs,” he said and added that there is no cure of the disease till now other than adopting precautionary measures.
Tens of educational institutions were closed soon after across the country over violation of standard operating procedures (SOPs) and detection of Covid-19 cases among some students, teachers and other staff, resulting in the aforementioned delay in classes resuming.
More than 4,000 coronavirus tests have been conducted at educational institutions across Balochistan, the health department said on Thursday, adding that 382 have been declared positive. As many as 158 new cases of the coronavirus were detected in the province over the last 24 hours.
SENTINAL TESTING TO ‘IDENTIFY EARLY TRENDS’:
Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar said that a “significant build-up in covid testing [has been] done to carry out sentinel testing at educational institutions in order to identify early trends, if any”.
Significant build up in covid testing done to carry out sentinel testing at educational institutions in order to identify early trends, if any. 42,299 tests carried out yesterday which is by far the highest ever. Positivity ratio continues to be stable below 2%
— Asad Umar (@Asad_Umar) September 24, 2020
“42,299 tests carried out yesterday which is by far the highest ever. [The] positivity ratio continues to be stable below 2%,” he tweeted.