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  • Schools shut due to violation of safety rules, not surge in infections: Mahmood

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    Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood and Dr Faisal Sultan File Photo Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood and Dr Faisal Sultan

    Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood on Tuesday denied that schools were closed due to a surge in infections, chalking the move up to non-compliance to safety measures.

    Mahmood, addressing a press conference in Islamabad alongside Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan, said that a review of the coronavirus situation would be conducted before reopening of primary schools on September 30.

    The education minister said that institutions that wish to conduct examinations may go ahead and do so; in light of the statistics, the government will not stop them.

    A meeting earlier in the day reviewed the coronavirus situation and it was announced that students from Grades 6-8 will go back to school in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, Azad Jammu Kashmir, and Gilgit-Baltistan from tomorrow.

    Sindh, on the other hand, has decided not to reopen schools, despite the infection rate reportedly remaining the same.

    Dr Faisal Sultan, taking over the presser, said a strategy was devised to reopen educational institutions and that the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) would review the country's infections daily and the results reported by testing centres near educational institutions that were allowed to open in the first phase.

    In the country, in the week of September 14, average infections stood at 599 and after that, the infections remained "somewhat the same", said Dr Sultan. On September 21, the cases stood at 623 and on September 22 they were 582.

    "We did not see a significant change after the educational institutions reopened in the country," the premier's aide said.

    "The statistic that we look at closely is positivity percentage — the total number of positive cases from tests taken — it has remained under 2% in the month of September," he said, adding that on September 21 it stood at 1.9% and on September 22 it was 1.61%.

    In the past week, the change in the number of cases was not significant enough to warrant a delay in the the reopening of schools, he said.

    Talking about a survey of the country's educational institutes, he said: "In public institutes, over 74,000 tests were conducted and in private institutes, nearly 20,000 tests were taken. In Punjab's public and private institutes, the rate remained at 0.12% and 0.55%, respectively."

    In Sindh, the positivity rate stood at 0.76% and 0.88% in public and private institutes, respectively.

    In KP, the public institutes recorded 1.70% positivity and private institutes registered 0.86%, whereas, in Balochistan's public institutes, the rate was 11.8%.

    Dr Sultan reiterated the need for people to wear masks, especially in closed areas as it was an important piece of equipment to curb the spread of the virus.

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