Surge in COVID cases: Educational institutions in various Punjab cities to remain closed for two weeks
- Shafqat says there is a noticeable surge in coronavirus cases across Pakistan, however, the situation is not the same as it was in November-December
- SAPM Faisal says 50 percent of employees are required to work from home, while commercial activities will close at 10pm
(Karachi) Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood has said that educational institutions in different cities of Punjab will remain closed for two weeks due to sharp rise in COVID-19 infections, local media reported on Wednesday.
The decision has been taken in a meeting of National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) to discuss the fate of educational institutions after surge in coronavirus cases in schools.
All the provincial education ministers attended the meeting to review the coronavirus situation in the country and school opening modalities.
Addressing a press conference alongside Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan, Shafqat said that there is a noticeable surge in coronavirus cases across Pakistan, however, the situation is not the same as it was in November-December. “The rate of cases has spiked within a week,” he noted.
He added that the educational institutes in Faisalabad Gujranwala, Lahore, Gujrat, Multan, Rawalpindi and Sialkot would be closed from Monday for two weeks. Mahmood added that the same decision will also apply to educational institutions in Islamabad and also in Muzaffarabad.
The minister said that all steps have to be taken while keeping in mind the nearly 50 million children that attend schools, colleges and universities. "This is a sector that has a direct effect on the spread of the disease," he said.
He stated that officials conducted an analysis of the situation in the entire country, adding that the situation in Sindh and Balochistan is satisfactory." Therefore, it has been decided that 50 percent of all children would attend classes every day while maintaining social distancing and wearing face masks."
The minister added that all standard operating procedures (SOPs) previously enforced will continue to be followed.
He mentioned that the federal government also decided to extend the ban on the activities at indoor venues and resume the 50 percent work from home policy. "Smart lockdown will be enforced in places where necessary," he said.
Meanwhile, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Health Services Dr Faisal Sultan said that due to a rise in coronavirus cases, people are advised to wear masks in public spaces at all times. He said 50 percent of employees are required to work from home, while commercial activities will close at 10pm.
In addition, amusement parks will close at 6pm, he stated.
Faisal highlighted that the decision regarding reopening wedding halls, indoor dining, cinemas on March 15 has been taken back. However, outdoor dining will continue, he said.