Two more educational institutions in Islamabad have been sealed by the district health administration after the detection of COVID-19 cases among five students, fueling the outbreak’s second wave fears.
In August, the government lifted most lockdown restrictions, which had come following a significant drop in new coronavirus cases. Federal Education for Minister Shafqat Mahmood had announced the re-opening of educational institutions on September 4, since when, at least 29 schools, colleges and universities have been sealed in the federal capital alone.
The cases were reported despite the authorities concerned ensuring that necessary measures were taken ahead of the much-awaited re-opening of educational institutions.
While it was earlier speculated that coronavirus has ended in Pakistan due to either an effective strategy of the government or multiple other reasons such as herd immunity being achieved, a sudden spike in the number of cases has left experts scratching their heads.
Taking to Twitter, Minister for Planning Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar, who also chairs the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) to deal with COVID-19 in the country, has highlighted the rise in the number of infections as well.
An analysis of previous data shows that since the easing of lockdown restrictions and reopening of education institutions in Pakistan, there has been a steady increase in the number of new COVID-19 cases.
However, evidence from around the world has shown there is no correlation between students returning to institutions after coronavirus lockdowns and a rise or fall in new infections.
According to Insights for Education, 52 countries, including France and Spain, actually saw infection rates rise during the holidays. Some, such as Croatia, have seen cases fall after reopening schools.
Others, like Hungary and Great Britain, have seen a rise since reopening schools, according to the data — based on UNESCO and World Bank figures alongside rigorous daily media scans over the last six months — although the United Kingdom (UK) infection rate was already trending upwards before schools reopened.
Overall, the picture is so varied that a link between schools and coronavirus transmission cannot be proved, the report suggested. Other factors, including the country’s health system capacity and economic openness and the robustness of its testing and tracing system, must be considered.
By the time this report was filed, Sindh had the highest number of infections and deaths in Pakistan — 140,997 and 2,566, respectively — followed by Punjab with 101,237 positive cases and 2,277 deaths.
The total number of cases in the country stood at 321,218 with 305,395 recoveries.