WHO wants Covid-19 testing in schools increased

Updated 13 Oct 2020

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The World Health Organisation wants Covid-19 testing among students increased to know about the exact level of prevalence of the infection. — Reuters/File
The World Health Organisation wants Covid-19 testing among students increased to know about the exact level of prevalence of the infection. — Reuters/File

PESHAWAR: The World Health Organisation wants Covid-19 testing among students increased to know about the exact level of prevalence of the infection among inmates of educational institutions and take steps to prevent second wave of the infection.

Islamabad-based experts in the world health agency told Dawn that schools sampling showed low positivity, less than two per cent that was stable but some districts were reporting more cases in educational setups which needed to be focused.

“But the ratio of sampling from educational institutions is gradually decreasing which is not recommended. The testing must be increased to know the prevalence among students, so that to keep the incidence at lower level and prevent second wave,” they said.

They said that conducting 1,500 tests per day for the whole Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was too less and it should be increased to 3,000-4,000. The machines at Khyber Medical University are exhausted and their capacity of conducting tests has been reduced.

Experts say 1,500 tests per day for whole KP not enough

Since October 15, when the schools resumed operations, KP has collected 34.964 swabs from students, teachers and staffers of which 360 have tested positive for coronavirus, 29,015 negative and the results of 5,589 are awaited.

Last week, the province conducted 2,026 tests, according to a report of the health department. The positivity rate was 1.22 per cent, it said.

Of the 360 confirmed cases in schools, 108 have been detected in Peshawar, which is leading the province-wide tally of confirmed cases in general population with 14,331.

Swat is second as far as score of Covid-19 cases among students is concerned. It has so far recorded 31 patients in educational institutions. The district also stands second to Peshawar in KP with 3,156 cases in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Abbottabad, which has recorded 1,754 cases since the onset of the pandemic, stands third on the scorecard showing Covid-19 cases in schools with a total of 19 infections.

Dir Upper has 13 cases in schools and 955 in common population. Each Swabi and Charsadda has nine cases. However, emergence of 17 cases in schools in Hangu so far is a matter of concern because it has recorded 232 patients in general public after the outbreak of the pandemic in the province.

Similarly, 11 schools-based cases in Kohistan Lower, which has a total of 90 adult patients, is also not a good sign while eight cases each in Kohistan Upper and Torghar are also a source of worry. Both the districts have only 29 and 55 cases in general public respectively.

Chitral Upper has registered 23 cases in schools which is higher if considered its total 233 cases since the arrival of the pandemic.

Detection of infection in 10 students in Bannu and as many in Dera Ismail Khan also required more tests, said the HO officials said.

They said that health department should increase testing, especially in the areas that were recording most cases in schools and at the same time increase number of swabs from the endemic districts.

Health officials told Dawn that they had been reducing and increasing the number of tests after reviewing the province’s situation on weekly basis. They said that the relevant authorities were told to scale up testing in schools from where bulks of cases were coming.

“We have tasked the high-risk districts to collect samples in line with the positivity of cases among the inmates of schools,” they said.

KP has so far recorded 38,367 confirmed coronavirus cases with 1,264 deaths. The province reported 19 new cases during the last 24 hours and 45 recoveries.

The number of recovered patients in the province is 36,636 and only 467 active cases remain, according to a report by health department.

Published in Dawn, October 13th, 2020