All remaining classes must resume on Feb 1: NCOC

ISLAMABAD: All remaining classes in schools and universities across Pakistan must resume, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) determined on Wednesday.

A detailed discussion with all stakeholders was held during which it was decided with the consensus that educational institutions shall resume all remaining classes — at the primary, middle, and university level — on February 1.

The forum decided that students in Karachi, Hyderabad, Lahore, and Peshawar would attend classes with 50% strength on alternate days.

The NCOC morning session was chaired by Federal Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives Asad Umar with National Coordinator NCOC Lieutenant General Hamood Uz Zaman Khan.

Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mehmood also attended the meeting, whereas the provincial health minister of Sindh and chief secretaries of all federating units joined the meeting through video link.

The forum has decided to reopen the education sector with strict recommendations of staggered classes for three days a week in the urban centers, in light of the higher coronavirus positivity ratio reported there.

However, universities would resume operations as per the usual schedule.

The forum was informed that globally, the disease trend had witnessed a hike after the complete reopening of the education sector, therefore the approach to cut down the attendance on a given day would help in reducing the resurgence of the contagion.

It was also informed that vaccination centers have been established all across the country, wherein staff training and other arrangements have been completed to kick-start coronavirus inoculation.

The decision to reopen schools comes amid a worsening coronavirus situation both domestically and internationally.

Pakistan records 1,563 new cases

Pakistan has seen more than 1,500 cases daily in the last few weeks. The last time the number dropped below the figure was on November 7, when 1,463 cases were recorded.

The national tally of total active COVID-19 cases in the country on Wednesday reached 33,820 with 1,563 more people testing positive for the deadly virus.

Seventy-four coronavirus patients died Tuesday — 63 in hospitals and 11 in their respective homes or quarantines — according to the latest update by NCOC.

Most of the deaths occurred in Punjab followed by Sindh.

Out of the 74 deaths, 40 patients died on ventilators.

The country has thus far recorded 537,477 confirmed cases and 11,450 deaths.

Record 18,000 daily virus toll worldwide

Worldwide, more than 18,000 people died of coronavirus over the past 24 hours, according to an AFP count based on official figures, a new grim record amid the battle to stem the pandemic.

A total of 18,109 COVID-19 deaths were registered on Tuesday.

Over the week from January 20-26, a total of 101,366 coronavirus deaths were registered worldwide, an average of 1,400 fatalities each day and the worst week on record since the virus first emerged in China in late 2019.

The global death toll reached 2.16 million overnight Tuesday from 100 million cases recorded since the start of the pandemic.

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