Pakistan announced on Wednesday that all educational institutions in cities worst hit due to the coronavirus pandemic will be closed down from March 15 for two weeks due to a surge in COVID-19 cases in the country.
Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood announced the decision while addressing the media alongside Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Faisal Sultan after the National Command and Control Centre (NCOC) reviewed the coronavirus situation at educational institutions.
Mahmood said institutions will be closed in seven cities of Punjab province, including Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Lahore, Gujarat, Multan, Rawalpindi and Sialkot. He said educational institutions in Islamabad, Peshawar and Muzaffarabad will also be closed. All educational institutions will remain closed from March 15 to March 28 in specified cities and districts. Half of the students will keep attending classes in other districts, Mahmood said.
The minister said that all steps have to be taken while keeping in mind the nearly 50 million children that attend schools, colleges and universities. He said the situation in Sindh and Balochistan was satisfactory and the policy of 50 per cent students attending will continue.
COVID-19 first emerged in the country in February last year and hit a peak in mid-June. However, it started to decline in the following months but surged again in October 2020, prompting the government to issue a warning of a second wave. Fatalities and confirmed cases from the coronavirus have increased steadily since March 1, when Pakistan resumed regular classes at schools.
Pakistan has reported 595,239 coronavirus cases, including 13,324 deaths so far.