Photo used for illustrative purpose.
Rejecting the speculations about the closure of educational institutions amid the emergence of the new COVID-19 variant, Omicron, in various countries, Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood categorically said that the schools will not be closed in Pakistan.
Addressing the inaugural ceremony of inter-boards sports gala in the Islamabad, Shafqat said, “Schools will remain open and the examinations will be held as per schedule.”
He said that the government was committed to raise the standard of educational institutions in the country, adding that students had already suffered losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Government wants no disruption in education activities
A day earlier, Shafqat had said that the government wanted to continue the education activities.
Speaking to the media in Lahore, the federal minister had said he was not aware of the details about the new strain but there should not be any disruption in education.
Shafqat had said that examinations would be held on time and with the complete syllabus as decided by the education ministers.
Pakistani people urged to get fully vaccinated over Omicron variantEarlier, Federal Planning Minister Asad Umar warned that the latest concerning variant of the coronavirus, Omicron, will inevitably come to Pakistan and the country had only a few weeks to contain its threat.
Addressing a press conference alongside Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan, Umar urged the Pakistani people to get fully vaccinated in order to protect themselves from the new Omicron variant of Covid-19.
Umra said, "Previous experiences show that it can spread across the world, including Pakistan, because the world is so interconnected that it is impossible to stop any new variant from spreading."
At present, people getting fully vaccinated is a logical solution against threat of the Omicron variant, according to the Minister.
Umar said the government had decided to re-intensify the vaccination campaign across the country by utilising extra resources. “The vaccination process was already going on but now we are going to escalate the process and within two or three days, a reinforced vaccination campaign would start in all the provinces to minimise threat of the new variant (Omicron),” Umar said. He said that currently 50 million Pakistani people are fully vaccinated.
“This (strain) has to spread in the whole world as we saw before that when a variant comes, the world is so interconnected that it is impossible to stop it,” the minister said, adding that vaccination was the most logical solution to curb the threat.
He said the initial information the government had received was that although Omicron was a “very dangerous” variant, vaccination will be effective against it. “What we can do is to at least delay the arrival of virus in Pakistan by taking prompt actions,” he said.
Talking about the government’s preventive measures, the minister said that they were tightening restrictions for the passengers coming from abroad and increasing testing capacity in high-risk areas.
Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood announced that exams scheduled for March are being delayed till May and June. The minister held a meeting with private school association representatives on reopening schools.
The NCOC late last month announced a new set of restrictions including a blanket ban on tourism and inter-provincial transport in an attempt to contain a further rise in already mounting coronavirus cases under the "Stay Home, Stay Safe” strategy.
Pakistani students will quarantine at their hostels. Pakistanis having valid residence, work visas also exempted from hotel quarantine. The rule is effective from Froday till Sept.1.
The Punjab government is keeping a close eye on coronavirus cases in the schools, Minister Murad Raas said adding that random testing was being conducted and a slight increase in numbers has been observed.
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