The second wave of coronavirus is taking its toll on Pakistan as the country’s overall positivity ratio has exceeded 6.12 percent.
Pakistan reported 2,304 new infections on Friday – the highest since July – and more than a 27 percent increase over the previous day’s cases of 1,808. Thirty-seven new virus-related deaths have also been reported during the last twenty-four hours.
Medical experts believe that this COVID-19 wave is more vicious than the first one, with a rapid increase in virus-related fatalities as proof.
Assessing the danger, the government has closed the Senate and the National Assembly, and is running a majority of government offices at half capacity.
However, when it comes to closing down schools or announcing an early winter break, officials are ready to risk students’ lives, despite the booming cases of infections. When schools reopened on 15 September after a six-month closure, Pakistan had 5,773 active coronavirus cases. The active number of cases increased to 8,782 by 15 October and 23,641 by 13 November, which testifies to a 190 percent rise.
Schools – Hubs of COVID-19
According to the data from the Health Department, schools in Sindh and Punjab have become hubs of COVID-19, leaving parents worried about their children’s lives. At least 446 students and teachers have been diagnosed with the coronavirus since the reopening in September. Meanwhile, the prevalence rate in educational institutions is under two percent.
The numbers in Sindh, and in Karachi in particular are more alarming. On 5 November, 216 students and teachers had tested positive for coronavirus in a single day in the district east of the metropolitan city.
Regardless, the two provinces resisted the call for early winter vacations at the inter-provincial meeting of the Ministers for Education on November 6.
Growing Calls for Winter Holidays
The National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) has expressed concerns over the rising cases and has recommended that the government call for an early and extended winter vacation to save students’ lives.
An inter-provincial meeting of the ministers for education has been called on Monday to deliberate the pandemic situation at educational institutions, and take a decision in this regard.
Although the Sindh Minister for Education, Saeed Ghani, had previously hinted at the closure of schools due to rising cases, his counterpart in Punjab, Murad Raas, is against the idea. On Friday, he reiterated that schools across the province would remain open.
Despite the numerous difficulties of home-based online teaching and learning in Pakistan, it remains to be seen if an informed decision will be made in due time to curb the growing numbers of coronavirus cases and to prevent students and teachers from being infected.