PESHAWAR: As more and more people are coming down with coronavirus in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the health department has begun random Covid-19 testing in seminaries.
Giving separate targets to the district health officers for Covid-19 testing in seminaries, the department said the religious schools with high virus incidence would be closed.
“The results of Covid-19 tests of seminary students, teachers and staff members will be analysed every week and the seminaries recording high virus positivity rate will be closed to stem the spread of the infection,” a health official told Dawn.
He said the exercise would also reveal the infection prevalence in seminaries.
Though the government had closed educational institutions across the province for in-person learning on Nov 25 due to a spike in coronavirus cases, the seminaries remained open. The closure of schools, colleges and universities also led to the suspension of random coronavirus testing of students and their teachers. From early Sept to Nov 25, the educational institutions in the province had recorded 2,740 coronavirus cases.
Officials of the health department told Dawn that students both minors and youth remained stayed safe even if they’re infected with the virus but they acted as the infection transmitters.
Doctor among 15 more killed by virus in KP
They said 80 per cent of the people, who were killed by Covid-19, were aged above 60 years and 90 per cent of them had underlying illnesses, which exposed them to the virus.
The officials said the students, who had tested positive for the virus in the province, were mostly asymptomatic and therefore, they carried out activities as usual for not knowing about their infection.
They said such students threatened the life of elderly people in their houses and their community as well.
“The emphasis is laid on more Covid-19 testing in seminaries, which are being selected randomly. We have also resumed limited level testing in schools, which open once a week to assign homework to students,” an official of the health department told Dawn.
He said health workers visited schools and collected samples from suspected coronavirus cases for testing.
“On Monday, we [health department] will examine the coronavirus data of religious and other schools before making recommendations, including closure of those with high infection positivity rate,” he said.
The official said the department’s strategy also included the creation of awareness among students of precautionary measures against Covid-19.
He said the new policy aimed to protect the elderly people and those with health issues from coronavirus as they had no or poor immunity, so they couldn’t survive the infection.
On Saturday, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa recorded 15 deaths by coronavirus, including eight in Peshawar, four in Abbottabad and one each in Bajaur, Haripur and Dera Ismail Khan, said a health department report.
Among the deceased was anaesthetist Dr Mohsin, who breathed his last in the Naseerullah Khan Babar Memorial Hospital, Peshawar.
As the coronavirus has so far killed 38 doctors in the province, the Provincial Doctors’ Association expressed concern and demanded Shuhada Package for the health workers losing life to the virus.
The health department report said the virus had so far killed 1,536 people and infected 34,836 in the province.
Published in Dawn, December 20th, 2020