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Coronavirus: Education ministry proposes closing schools from Nov 24

Students wearing facemasks stand in queue as they wait to enter their school in Karachi on September 15, 2020 after the educational institutes were reopened nearly six months after the spread of the COVID-19. — AFP/Files

The Federal Ministry of Education has recommended that the provinces shut down schools from November 24 to January 31, 2021, amid rising coronavirus infections in the country.

The ministry on Wednesday proposed that primary schools be closed from November 24, and middle schools from December 2.

The final decision will be made on November 23.

The development comes a day after Sindh Education Minister Saeed Ghani had said that schoolchildren will not be granted winter vacations this year.

The provincial minister had said students have been given more holidays than usual this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"Therefore, there's no question of winter vacations right now," he had said.

He added that a final decision on the matter will be taken during a National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) meeting scheduled for late November.

Ghani’s statement came after Federal Minister of Education Shafqat Mahmood convened a special meeting of education ministers to decide on an NCOC recommendation to announce early and extended winter vacations.

Since there was no consensus, a decision on the matter was deferred till next week.

It is pertinent to mention here that for the past six days, Pakistan has recorded more than 2,000 new infections daily.

A total of 2,208 new COVID-19 cases were confirmed in the past 24 hours, bringing the tally to 363,380. With 37 new deaths, the country's coronavirus death toll reached 7,230.

So far, a total of 325,788 people have recovered from the virus while the active number of cases stands at 30,362.

With 38,544 tests conducted across Pakistan, the positivity rate has reached 5.3%.

NCC makes important decisions

Meanwhile, the National Coordination Committee has imposed an immediate ban on large gatherings as the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread in the country.

According to a statement issued, the NCC has imposed a ban on outdoor gatherings that have more than 300 attendees.

The NCC said that the management of any event will be responsible for implementing Standard Operations Procedures (SOPs) pertaining to coronavirus.

If the event leads to the spread of the virus, the management will be held responsible.

On marriages, it said that a ban would be imposed on indoor gatherings from November 20 and that only outdoor events will be permitted with an upper limit of 300 people.

Moreover, it said that the NCC would convene a meeting next week to decided on imposing a ban on indoor dining at restaurents, adding that people will be encouraged to eat outdoors or take food home.

Local authorities will ensure that people wear masks in all crowded spaces, the NCC added.

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