PESHAWAR: The authorities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have urged the government to allow early and prolonged winter vacations for students as the coronavirus positivity rate touches more than eight per cent in educational institutions.
Education department officials told Dawn that given the increasing occurrence of Covid-19 in schools, the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was weighing options to suggest the extended winter holiday to the National Command and Operation Centre to curb the spread of the virus.
“In the next meeting, KP is likely to express its concerns about the increasing Covid-19 positivity rate in schools to the NCOC and suggest early and prolonged winter holidays in central districts, where the holidays will begin on December 20,” said an official.
He said the challenges were being addressed at the regional level to take steps to control the virus and schools would become a significant source of contamination for the general public if that did not happen.
Officials say Covid positivity rate reaches more than 8pc in schools
The official said that the general population’s Covid-19 problem was worsening as 23 districts in the province had reported a positive rate of over four percent.
He said that in the past two weeks, the virus, which persisted in hibernation in Sept and Oct, had begun causing more infections and deaths.
Three people died of the virus in the province on Tuesday, bringing the toll to 1,318, a report from the health department said.
200 more people were infected with coronavirus, according to the study, raising the number of cases to 42,815. The number of active cases rose in one week by about 50 percent to 2,178.
Officials said the positive levels of Covid-19 in the province’s educational institutions had jumped from 2.01 percent to 8.16 over the past week, which was highly risky and worrying.
Authorities have obtained 103,368 samples on a random basis from government and private schools since mid-Oct. Of these, 1,909 tests turned out to be positive and 92,805 negative, while 8,654 findings are expected,” he added.
According to a survey by the World Health Organisation released on Tuesday, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Peshawar and Swat are among the country’s 15 heavily polluted districts.
It said that during the last 24 hours, Peshawar reported 6.7 percent of the Covid-19 positive rate and Swat 4.8 percent.
Sources suggested that the health department was worried about growing cases of coronavirus in schools that transmitted the virus to the general public, threatening the lives of the elderly and those with medical conditions.
They said the reported students, who were carriers of viruses without symptoms, endangered the lives of others.
The sources said that the general policy adopted by the health department was to carry out checks and monitor the contacts for monitoring of positive patients and then recommend that the district administration implement lockdowns in the affected areas.
Around the same time, they added, health facilities were alerted to accept patients with critical illnesses into intensive care units or high-dependence units.
The sources said the primary solution was to prevent the virus from spreading and breaking its chain, especially in educational institutions where the rate of infection positivity was becoming hazardous.
They said one way to ensure social distancing was to invite students on alternating days to join in-person classes and some schools have already done so.