Pakistan school students mask
Students wear protective masks maintaining safe distance as they attend a class, after government allowed reopening of schools from grade six to eight amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Peshawar, Pakistan September 23, 2020. Image Credit: Reuters

Islamabad: Asad Umar, Pakistan’s Minister for Planning, Development & Special Initiative who is also chairman of the Coronavirus Control Committee, has claimed significant build-up in COVID-19 testing at educational institutions in order to identify early trends.

In a tweet, the minister said some 42,299 tests were carried out a day earlier, which is by far the highest ever.

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Positivity ratio continues to be stable below 2%, further claimed the minister in his latest social media post.

WHO cautions against resurgence of COVID-19

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) has asked the Pakistan government to take all precautionary measures and follow Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for coronavirus as junior schools (from Grade-1 to Grade-V) are opening from Sept 30.

Non-observance of standard operating procedures relating to prevention Covid-19 in educational institutes is something that the provincial and the federal governments should take serious notice of, an official of the WHO said.

The world health body’s Islamabad office has also called for adherence to social distancing, hand-washing and wearing masks along with infection prevention measures in schools to stay safe from the pandemic.

Continuation of educational activities without precautionary measures could snowball into resurgence of coronavirus, which was presently on the decline, said the official.

We had issued advisory to the government regarding school-related public health measures in the context of Covid-19 on September 14 to prevent recurrence of the pandemic, he further said.

School sealed in Islamabad

Meanwhile, a private school in H-8 has been sealed for five days after two people there tested positive for Covid-19.

The school was sealed on the advice of the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS). Islamabad district health officer has asked the deputy commissioner to close two private schools that each reported two cases of the disease.

7 deaths, 798 new cases in 24 hours

Pakistan on Friday reported a total of 309,015 cases of coronavirus, 798 being recorded in the last 24 hours. The death toll caused by the infection so far has reached 6,444 with seven new casualties in the last twenty-four hours period.

According to the National Health Service (NHS) Ministry’s portal, the government has raised the number of tests significantly from earlier 25,000 to over 35,000 as voices are being raised over fewer numbers of tests.

Civil society and health experts have been calling for an increase in the number of tests to ascertain the exact status of coronavirus in the country.

In response to that criticism, 37,504 tests were conducted during the last twenty-four hours. The number of critical cases of COVID-19 has declined to 544 with zero new critical cases during the last 24 hours, the NHS ministry portal further says.