ISLAMABAD: A day after Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood rejected reports suggesting the closure of schools after coronavirus outbreak appeared to be surging again, the Ministry of Education on Tuesday announced to convene a meeting to review various academic agendas amid fears of a second wave.
As per a notification issued, the Inter-Provincial Education Ministers’ Conference (IPEMC) has been convened on November 5. The meeting — which will be attended by education ministers of all four provinces, Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJ&k) and Gilgit-Baltistan — will be presided over by Mahmood.
According to the notification, the agenda of the meeting entails a Covid-19 situation update, a decision on winter vacation in educational institutions as well as moving the academic year from April to August.
The education minister, on November 2, again clarified amid rumours that educational institutions were not being closed.
In a tweet, the minister stated that, “We will continue to monitor the situation as the health of the students, teachers and staff is very important but at the moment no such decision has been made,” he said.
Following an almost six-month break in the aftermath of the Covid-19 outbreak, educational institutions in Pakistan reopened in mid-September after the National Coordination and Operation Centre’s approval.
The National Coordination Committee on Covid-19 is also expected to meet today with Prime Minister Imran Khan in the chair, to discuss additional measures to contain the rising spread of coronavirus in the country.
Planning Minister Asad Umar said on Monday recommendation of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) to contain the pandemic would be presented in the meeting.
The meeting has been summoned against the backdrop of the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. The disease first emerged in the country in Feb this year and saw a peak in mid-June. The curve was flattened by the end of August but it again showed rising trend in October.
“The NCOC discussed additional measures to control the rising spread of Covid19. Recommendations will be tabled in the NCC being called for tomorrow,” Umar tweeted. He also stressed the need to take immediate measures to stem the disease spread, without affecting economic activities.
The country is in the grip of the second wave of Covid, with positivity rate soars above 4% — the highest since August. On Sunday, the country recorded 1,123 new cases, also the highest single-day tally in over three months. At least 12 people succumbed to the virus, NCOC said on Monday.
The authorities have issued multiple warnings in the past few days against ignoring the Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs). Last week, the NCOC issued fresh rules regarding the closure of wedding halls and shopping malls and made the wearing of face mask mandatory.
Last month, the government also issued new restrictions for the passengers coming to Pakistan from abroad, making it mandatory for the travellers to have the Covid tests before boarding the flight to any airport in Pakistan.
On Monday, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) took further measure for the safety of the passengers, barring the entry of the people to the airport. The authority said in a notification that only passengers would be allowed to reach airport, accompanied by a driver of their vehicle.
“As per the instructions of Govemment of Pakistan, in order to curb the spread of COVID-19; meeters and greeters are not allowed at the Airport. Only driver may pick-up the passenger from parking and drop the passenger on drop lane,” the CAA notification said.
“Drivers will stay in the vehicle during pick or drop. Kindly cooperate with the airport authorities in this regard. Your safety is our priority,” the notification added. CAA officials appealed to the people not to visit the airports unnecessarily.