Health authorities resume random testing for Covid-19 in schools

Published January 19, 2021
The results of testing in educational institutions will be analysed in the meetings of National Command and Operation Centre. — AFP/File
The results of testing in educational institutions will be analysed in the meetings of National Command and Operation Centre. — AFP/File

PESHAWAR: Eight more people died of Covid-19 and 210 new cases were recorded in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as health authorities resumed screening of students of high school and intermediate classes on Monday.

The results of testing in educational institutions will be analysed in the meetings of National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on the basis of which decision about resumption of classes for primary, middle and university students will be made, according to officials.

The government and private sector high and higher secondary schools and colleges on Monday resumed education activities at their campuses after one and a half month closure due to second weave of the pandemic.

KP records eight more deaths, 210 new cases

All the educational institutions across the province were closed on November 26 owing to severity in the second wave of Covid-19 as per decision taken by the federal and provincial education ministries.

Primary to middle schools and universities would resume educational activities from February 1.Meanwhile, a daily situation report released by health department said that six of the eight Covid-19 deaths occurred in Peshawar and one each in Haripur and Bannu.

The province has recorded a total of 1,791 mortalities and 63,825 cases so far since the onset of the pandemic.

Of the total positive patients, 58,348 have recovered from the infectious disease with the recoveries of 108 more patients during the last 24 hours. At present, there are 3,696 active cases in the province.

Officials said that about 2000 Covid-19 cases were detected in educational institutions prior to closure of schools on November 26.

The positivity trend had reached 10 per cent among inmates of educational institutions, prompting the World Health Organisation to suggest closure of the institutions to avoid more cases and deaths in the second wave of the pandemic.

WHO feared that there was no death among students despite being positive for the virus but they posed threats to the elderly people or those with underlying medical conditions in their homes and in neighbourhoods.

“The NCOC has instructed all the provinces to resume testing in schools and present the findings in the weekly meetings. If the positivity level is normal then the government will be advised to resume classes for primary, middle and university students as well,” officials said.

They said all the 35 districts were asked to conduct random testing in schools and adopt the same method of closing down a class for two days if a case was reported there.

In case of detection of more than one case, the entire school will be closed down for two days.

Officials told Dawn that a final report regarding Covid-19 positivity in the educational institutions would be analysed towards the end of the current month on the basis of which decisions about the closure or reopening of educational institutions would be made.

“The two weeks are crucial and NCOC has directed the provinces to carry out screening in all districts to be able to make correct decisions about the schools, colleges and universities. Therefore, we started testing from Monday at private and public educational institutions to come with a comprehensive report,” they said.

Officials said that more focus would be laid on Peshawar as it was recording most cases in general population.

During the last screening drive in schools, Peshawar recorded 50 per cent of the total cases, they said. Other high-risk districts included Swat, Abbottabad and Mansehra but there would be random testing in all districts, they added.

Officials said that government announced resumption of the remaining classes from early next month tentatively because all depended on the outcome of screening drive in the educational institutions.

Published in Dawn, January 19th, 2021

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