Violation of Covid-19 restrictions to result in school’s closure: minister

Schools that were closed down in November reopened a day earlier

LAHORE: Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid on Tuesday warned to shut down schools that opened a day earlier on violation of health restrictions imposed to curb the spread of coronavirus outbreak.

The government earlier this month announced to open all schools across the country from January 18, after remaining closed for nearly two months due to the second wave of the pandemic.

In a media talk, Dr Rashid, who is leading the provincial anti-coronavirus drive, said the government will be compelled to close down the institutions in the standard operating procedures (SOPs) are “not followed religiously”.

She lamented the transmission rate was the highest in Lahore compared to other cities of the province.

In November, the government shut the schools and postponed exams to try to arrest the wave of fresh infections and a rise in the number of coronavirus-related hospitalisations.

Students, including those at higher educational institutions as well as in private schools, continued classes through distance learning until December 24, when schools went on winter break until January 11.

The decision to close schools was based on an increase in the rate of positive test results in the country. The rate of people testing positive in June was as high as 23 per cent but dropped to a low of 1.7 per cent by September. It has since begun to increase again, reaching 7.41 per cent this week.

More than 19 per cent of new cases were from educational institutions, where the rate of positive results had nearly doubled in one week to reach 3.3 per cent, officials said.

Throughout the pandemic, the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan avoided a wide-ranging lockdown, opting to close down non-essential public gatherings in a bid to keep the fragile economy afloat through the outbreak.

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