PESHAWAR: As the coronavirus positivity rate reaching more than eight per cent in educational institutions, the authorities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have urged the government to approve early and extended winter vacation for students.
Officials in the education department told Dawn that given the growing Covid-19 incidence in schools, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government was weighing options to recommend to the National Command and Operation Centre the extended winter vacation to stem the spread of the virus.
“KP is likely to convey its concerns about the rising Covid-19 positivity rate in schools to the NCOC in the next meeting and recommend early and extended winter vacation in central districts, where the holidays will start on Dec 20,” an official said.
He said the issues were being discussed at the provincial level to take measures to contain the virus because if that didn’t happen, schools would become a major source of infection to the general population.
Officials say Covid positivity rate reaches more than 8pc in schools
The official said the Covid-19 crisis in general population was worsening as 23 districts in the province had recorded over four per cent positivity rate.
He said the virus, which remained in hibernation in Sept and Oct, had started to cause more infections and deaths in the last two weeks.
On Tuesday, three people died of the virus in the province taking the toll to 1,318, said a health department report.
According to it, 200 more people were infected with coronavirus increasing the tally of patients to 42,815. The number of active cases has surged by around 50 per cent to 2,178 in one week.
Officials said the Covid-19 positivity rate in educational institutions of the province had jumped from 2.01 per cent to 8.16 in the last one week, which was extremely dangerous and alarming development.
“Since the middle of Oct, authorities have collected 103,368 samples from government and private schools on a random basis. Of them, the testing of 1,909 turned out to be positive and 92,805 negative, while the results of 8,654 are awaited,” he said.
According to a World Health Organisation report released on Tuesday, Peshawar and Swat of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are among the 15 highly-infected districts in the country.
It said Peshawar recorded 6.7 per cent Covid-19 positivity rate and Swat 4.8 per cent during the last 24 hours.
Sources said the health department was concerned about rising coronavirus cases in schools, which were transmitting the virus to the general population risking the life of the elderly people and those with medical conditions.
They said the confirmed students, who were symptomless virus carriers, threatened the life of others.
The sources said the general strategy pursued by the health department was to conduct tests and trace the contacts of positive patients for testing and subsequently recommend to the district administration to enforce lockdown in the infected areas.
They said at the same time, the health facilities had been alerted to admit seriously-ill patients in intensive care units or high dependency units.
The sources said the foremost strategy was to prevent the virus spread and break its chain, especially in educational institutions, where the infection positivity rate was becoming dangerous.
They said one option to ensure social distancing was to ask students to attend in-person classes on alternate days and some schools had already been doing it.
Published in Dawn, November 18th, 2020