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Govt to reconsider decision over reopening schools today

ISLAMABAD: The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) has decided to review the decision to reopen schools amid the rising trend of coronavirus cases across the country.

In this regard, Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood will hold a meeting of the provincial education ministers and decide on the closure of schools in major cities including Karachi, Islamabad, Multan, Rawalpindi, Lahore and Bahawalpur.

On Monday, a meeting of NCOC was presided by Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar and attended by National Coordinator Lt Gen Hamood-uz-Zaman Khan as well as representatives from each province via video link.

The meeting discussed updates from the provinces on the rising COVID-19 positivity rate, progress in the vaccination campaign as well as the national vaccine strategy.

The meeting also discussed deferring the opening up of cinemas, indoor weddings and dine-in restaurants, which were expected to be allowed from March 15. The next review will be held in the first week of April.

The NCOC expressed concerns over public complacency in following non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) — alternative measures to treat the disease other than medical treatment. These include following the SOP guidelines such as mask-wearing, hand-washing and maintaining social distancing.

The provincial administrations were directed to ensure strict enforcement of NPIs at the grass-root level to contain the spread of the disease as it could lead to a wave new of infections.

Last month, Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood had announced that schools in major cities would resume routine classes from March 1 in view of the declining trend of Covid-19 cases across the country.

The trend appears to be reversing as cases have surged and Special Adviser to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan issued a stark warning to “remember that the pandemic is not over” last week.