Random Covid-19 testing of students, teachers planned

Updated 06 Sep 2020

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Officials said directives had been issued to the district health officers and district education officers for the testing in line with the approved mechanism. — AFP/File
Officials said directives had been issued to the district health officers and district education officers for the testing in line with the approved mechanism. — AFP/File

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has decided about the random testing of students and teachers for coronavirus after the reopening of educational institutions.

Officials told Dawn that the education and health departments would jointly carry out around 3,000 random Covid-19 testing on campuses daily.

The Inter-Provincial Education Ministers’ Conference will decide about the reopening of universities, colleges and schools in a meeting on Sept 7.

Educational institutions were closed in the middle of March after Covid-19 broke out.

The officials said Khyber Pakhtunkhwa would conduct a minimum of 3,000 coronavirus tests daily and send their reports to the National Command and Operation Centre.

Official says province to carry out minimum of 3,000 tests daily

They said if the virus incidence increased, the testing exercise would continue otherwise it could be stopped.

The officials said the decision about suspension of Covid-19 testing in schools would be made by the NCOC.

They said directives had been issued to the district health officers and district education officers for the testing in line with the approved mechanism.

“In every union council, the relevant basic health unit will coordinate with the respective schools to ensure that students and teachers are subjected to random testing,” an official said.

He said the main focus of the exercise would be large schools, where the Covid-19 threat existed more than the small ones.

“Schools will be selected randomly by the education and health departments, where sampling will be done to know about the prevalence of the virus,” he said.

The official said if a student, teacher and staff member tested positive for Covid-19, then there would contact tracing and swabs would be collected from close family members of the confirmed cases.

“The testing pattern is just like general population’s in which when someone tests positive for virus, we take samples from the people living close to him or her,” he said.

The officials said the students, teachers and other staff members of educational institutions, whose relatives were diagnosed with Covid-19 in the last few months, would undergo testing compulsorily.“It is a national policy and will continue as long as the virus outbreak prevails in the country. We can stop testing in case we don’t detect confirmed cases but that decision about it will come from the NCOC,” a health official said.

He said the exercise would be carried out after the resumption of educational activities, which was likely to happen on Sept 15.

When contacted, education secretary Nadeem Aslam confirmed the random Covid-19 testing in schools after the resumption of classes. He said a final decision regarding the opening of schools would be taken on Monday.

The officials said in schools, the students and teachers with respiratory problems like flu and fever would be tested for coronavirus.

They said the number of coronavirus deaths and cases had declined but there was no scientific evidence of the disappearance of the virus or its potential to affect people.

The officials said the government was taking time to declare the end of the Covid-19 outbreak due to which random testing after the re-opening of schools had been accorded priority to ascertain the prevalence of the infection.

Published in Dawn, September 6th, 2020