22 educational institutions closed down in last 48 hours for flouting SOPs: NCOC

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A worker sprays disinfectant in a school in Karachi on September 14. — AP
A worker sprays disinfectant in a school in Karachi on September 14. — AP

The National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) said on Thursday that 22 educational institutions across the country were closed down during the last 48 hours for failing to comply with standard operating procedures (SOPs) for curbing the spread of Covid-19.

"During last 48 hours, 22 educational institutions across Pakistan have been closed due to non compliance of health SOPs/protocols and disease prevalence."

According to the statement, 16 of these educational institutions were in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, one in Islamabad and five in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

IBA Karachi suspends academic activities

Meanwhile, the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) Karachi suspended academic activities at both its campuses for two days, it emerged on Thursday.

Speaking to Dawn.com, IBA Head of Marketing and Communications Haris Tohid refuted media reports claiming the varsity had shut down campuses after two students had tested positive for the virus. "Campuses have not been shut down, only academic activity has been suspended."

When asked about the number of Covid-19 cases reported at the varsity, the official declined to comment. "Right now, we only suspect a certain number of cases. Giving any type of number at this point would be irresponsible.

"If the actual number is higher than the number we give, we will be misleading the public. But if the actual number is lower, then we will be creating panic."

He added that the varsity had been conducting Covid-19 tests in collaboration with the District Health Office since September 14.

He said that the administration was currently in the process of deciding the way forward, which would include increasing testing facilities and strengthening SOPs to curb the spread of the virus to ensure to well-being of students and staff.

"A press release in this regard will be issued shortly," he added.

3 colleges closed in Hyderabad division

Three colleges were closed down in Hyderabad division on Thursday after several Covid-19 cases were reported among teaching and non-teaching staff.

Eight positive cases were confirmed at two colleges in Matiari district among teaching and non-teaching staff, according to district health officer Dr Yar Mohammad. The cases were reported at the Government Girls' Degree College Matiari and the Government College Maula Saeedabad.

"Both colleges have been closed down by the district administration," Matiari Deputy Commissioner Ghulam Hyder Chandio said. He stated that the colleges would be disinfected, adding that the infected employees had been advised to isolate at home.

Meanwhile, Jamshoro Deputy Commissioner Farid Mustafa directed on Thursday to seal Government Degree Boys' College Bhan Saeedabad after 18 virus cases were reported among college staff.

He added that six more cases were reported among staff working at Army Public School Sehwan and five more cases among staff working at Government Girls' High School Sehwan.

He said that the Government Degree Boys' College Bhan Saeedabad had been sealed immediately while the remaining two schools were being disinfected by health workers. He said that Covid-19 tests were being carried out on students in Kotri's schools and colleges, adding that the results were awaited.

Medical college sealed in capital

Earlier in the week, a major medical college in the federal capital was sealed after 16 Covid-19 cases were reported among students and employees.

The Islamabad district health office in a letter had stated: “It has been observed with great concern that numerous cases of Covid-19 have been reported from Riphah Medical College, Islamabad, since September 9.

“Till date more than 16 cases have been reported. This trend is very alarming as this institute is becoming a super spreader and a hotspot for Covid-19. It is advised to immediately close down the campus and hostel premises and conduct thorough disinfection activities."

Meanwhile, another three people tested positive for Covid-19 on Wednesday out of 5,000 samples taken from public and private educational institutions in the capital so far.

Two employees of the city’s largest women’s college were among those diagnosed with the disease. Those who tested positive were told to isolate for two weeks.

Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) Spokesperson Sajid Shah said that residents should not panic, as incorrect information was circulating on social media. He said people should rely on the official website for information.

In response to two employees of Islamabad’s largest women’s college contracting Covid-19, an official from the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) said: “We will take extra precautions but [will] go ahead with opening educational institutions as planned. These are just two cases in hundreds of institutions.”

Before schools in the capital opened on Tuesday, three teachers — two at public schools in G-6 and G-7 and one at a private school in H-8 — had tested positive for Covid-19. The three institutions were disinfected before opening their doors to students on Tuesday.

Schools reopen in Pakistan

Educational institutions in the country reopened on Monday after a six month hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic. During the first phase, grades nine and ten, and colleges and universities are welcoming students. Secondary and primary classes will resume later this month.

A day before educational institutions reopened, Prime Minister Imran Khan said that it was "our priority and collective responsibility to ensure that every child can go to school safely to learn".

"We have worked to ensure that school operations are aligned with public health safety rules on Covid-19," he said in a tweet.

According to instructions issued by the NCOC, parents have been advised to ensure their children follow SOPs, which includes wearing face masks.

“Don’t send them to school with symptoms of cough and fever. Get them tested in case they exhibit severe Covid-19 symptoms and inform the educational institution if report comes back positive.

"Ensure social distancing among children and suggest them to use hand sanitisers. Moreover, transporters should also maintain social distancing in vehicles when taking them to schools,” the NCOC advised.