The federal government has announced the closure of all educational institutions from November 26 to December 24 due to the spike in COVID-19 cases.

Shafqat Mahmood, while addressing an important press conference alongside Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan, said that the government will have to take such steps to immediately stop the virus spread.

“It has decided to close all educational institutions across Pakistan from November 26 till December 24. Winter vacations will be started from December 25 to January 10. Children will continue their academic activities from their homes as all academic sessions will be continued using the online medium.”

“The provincial governments will decide on the online academic sessions and homework for the students. We are hoping for reopening the educational institutions from January 11 after witnessing improvements in the pandemic’s situation. The situation will be reviewed in the first week of January 2021.”

“All examinations have been postponed due to the closure of the educational institutions till January 15. We will try to extend the dates of the board examinations till the months of May and June. However, entry tests of the educational institutions will be held as per schedule.”

“Maximum efforts will be made for students to continue their academic activities while residing in their homes. A small number of students will be allowed to reside in the universities’ hostels.”

SAPM on Health Dr Faisal Sultan said that it is feared for further spread of COVID-19 if the authorities fail to take important decisions. He said that medical facilities will be overburdened after the likely increase in the coronavirus cases.

The special assistant said that the health authorities have discussed the second wave of coronavirus in the recent session of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) and decided to take decisive steps for curbing the virus spread.

Earlier, a session of the inter-provincial education ministers held under the chair of Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood to decide upon the closure of educational institutions during the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic.

The provincial education ministers have shown agreement for the closure of schools during the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic, sources told ARY News. The federal government suggested one-month closure of the education centres across the country.

During the session, Shafqat Mahmood said that lives of the educators and students are most important and no compromise will be made on their health.

NCOC briefed on COVID-19

According to the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), Pakistan’s COVID-19 positivity rate has reached 7.46 per cent, which is the highest in a single day since July 22.

The health authorities gave a detailed briefing on the current coronavirus situation earlier in the day, including a reported spike in deaths and infections, and its impact on educational institutions as well as measures to address the pandemic.

The NCOC was briefed that Pakistan’s positivity ratio has soared to 7.46 per cent lately. Azad Jammu and Kashmir that has been put under a blanket lockdown for a fortnight recorded the highest positivity ratio at 11.45pc, followed by 9.85pc witnessed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa while Sindh recorded 9.63pc, Islamabad 8.09pc, Gilgit Baltistan 5.23pc and Punjab 3.95pc.

It was informed that an average of 35 fatalities have been reported countrywide daily for the past two weeks. The positivity ratio of coronavirus cases in education institutions has reached 3.3 per cent.

The NCOC was told that the number of cases has risen in several cities in Pakistan, including Rawalpindi, Multan, Lahore and Faisalabad in Punjab; Karachi and Hyderabad in Sindh; Peshawar, Abbottabad and Swat in KP; Mirpur in AJK; Gilgit and Islamabad.