PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

Third Covid wave: Educational institutions to close again from today

Academic institutions in seven cities of Punjab, Peshawar and Islamabad to be shut for two weeks


News Desk March 14, 2021

Educational institutions of all grades in seven cities of Punjab, as well as in Peshawar and Islamabad will be closed for two weeks from Monday, keeping in view the resurgence of Covid-19 cases.

According to Radio Pakistan, the cities of Punjab where the two-week spring vacations are announced include Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Lahore, Gujrat, Sialkot, Multan and Rawalpindi.

"Educational institutions in Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Lahore, Gujarat, Multan, Rawalpindi, and Silakot will be closed from March 15 for spring holidays until March 28," Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood announced last week.

Commenting on the current situation, he said: "The good news is that the situation in Sindh and Balochistan is relatively better which is why they can continue to function [as per routine].”

Federal Minister Asad Umar has confirmed that the third wave of Covid-19 has started in Pakistan and attributed the rising number of cases to the virus' UK strain.

"Yes, there is no doubt that the third wave has started and basically, the phenomena that's driving it is the spread of the UK strain," he said while talking to a private news channel on Thursday evening.

The send-ups in schools will continue and the restrictions do not apply on continued exams at all levels.

Similarly, the metric and intermediate level exams will be taken in June this year and further decision in this regard will be made later.

Also read: Punjab tightens Covid-19 restrictions, businesses to close at 6pm from today

On Saturday, authorities in Punjab imposed new restrictions in the province to curtail the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic and announced that commercial activities will close at 6pm everyday till the restrictions stay in effect.

All business centres will close at 6pm and will not be permitted to operate on weekends. The policy of 50 per cent work from home for both public and private offices has also been enforced. These restrictions will stay in effect till March 29.

At least 1,653 new coronavirus cases were recorded in Punjab on Saturday, taking the provincial tally to 185,468.

According to the Primary and Secondary Health Care Department, at least 21 more patients succumbed to the disease as the total reached 5,752 in the province.

The department added that at least 169,752 patients had recovered from the contagion as of yet.

The policy of smart lockdown in targeted areas and ban on holding marriage ceremonies in covered areas will continue across the country.

Shrines closed, mosques directed to ensure SOPs

All shrines in Punjab have been closed till April 15 whereas the mosques have been directed to ensure Covid-19 standard operation procedures (SOPs) to stem the spread of the contagion.

According to Auqaf department spokesperson Asif Aijaz, the notification to open the shrines has been withdrawn as per the instructions of the provincial government.

Moreover, Deputy Commissioner of Islamabad Hamza Shafqaat has said that three sub-sectors of the federal capital will be sealed tonight following the emergence of 153 new cases in the areas.

Sub-sectors F-11/1, I-8/4, and I-10/2, reporting 51, 54, and 48 new cases respectively, will be sealed tonight, Shafqaat said.

He added that the business centres and parks will remain closed on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

In Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), nearly 76,000 cases of the novel coronavirus have been reported in the province. So far, more than 2,150 patients succumbed to the virus. More than 70,500 patients also recovered from the contagion in the province.

Lockdowns in Peshawar

Deputy Commissioner of Peshawar Capt. (Retd) Khalid Mahmood announced micro-smart lockdowns in four areas of Peshawar due to the rising number of Covid-19 cases.

According to the DC's statement, lockdowns will be imposed from Saturday evening onwards. The localities are: Hayatabad Phase 1 Street No.9, Hayatabad Phase 6 Street No.5, Gulbahar No.4 Street 3 and Defense Colony Street No.11.

Universities to go online for two weeks in virus hotspots

Following announcement by the government for spring holidays in academic institutions in the selected cities due to recent upsurge in Covid-19 cases, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) has said that all universities shall continue to operate as per guidelines issued earlier except for the universities and higher education institutions (HEIs) in the following cities: Faisalabad, Lahore, Multan, Sialkot, Peshawar, Gujranwala, Gujrat, Rawalpindi and Islamabad.

All universities and HEIs in the above-mentioned cities shall remain closed for physical attendance during March 15-28, 2021.

However, academic activities will continue online during this period. Moreover, on-going and pre-scheduled exams can be conducted as planned with complete observance of Covid-19 health and safety protocols.

Universities are advised to ensure strict observance of the Covid-19 minimum health and safety protocols including thermal scanning, wearing facemasks, social distancing, availability and regular use of sanitisers and disinfection of buildings. In addition, Universities are advised to seek further guidance, if required from the chair or the provincial/regional members of the Covid-19 oversight committee or email at [email protected]

(WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM NEWS DESK)

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