ISLAMABAD – Millions of children in Pakistan resumed their studies at schools and universities on Tuesday after a six-month shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The world’s biggest back-to-school comes as daily infections and deaths from the epidemic in the country of 220 million people have steadily declined. Authorities have reported around 400 new cases and six deaths in the past 24 hours.
Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government had closed more than 300,000 educational institutions as of mid-March as part of a nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of the virus that causes the COVID-19 disease.
Authorities have since gradually lifted all restrictions on businesses across Pakistan and opened up public places, including gymnasiums, tourist destinations and restaurants, but schools have remained closed.
Pakistan lifts the locks
Government reopens all sectors and sets strict guidelines on maintaining social distancing, avoiding large gatherings and wearing masks to help support national gains against pandemic
The restriction has confined more than 50 million Pakistani educated and university students to their homes in the South Asian country where authorities estimate that nearly 23 million children already lack access to education.
Let us welcome our children and students on the first day of the opening of educational institutions, tweeted Faisal Sultan, the Prime Minister’s special assistant on national health services.
Remember the basic protection steps. Masks, reduced density in classrooms, hand hygiene. Parents, school administrators, teachers, students all together, Sultan warned.
Authorities have recorded more than 302,000 cases, including nearly 6,400 deaths, while 96% of patients have recovered.
Pakistan’s countermeasures and the provision of emergency aid to millions of poor families directly affected by the economic lockdown have been widely welcomed.
An Asian Development Bank report released Tuesday praised Pakistan for successfully containing the dual health and economic challenge “presented by the infection.
Governments quickly mobilized a $ 7 billion relief package that included emergency financial support to daily wage earners, cash transfers to low-income families, accelerated wheat purchases, health support and Food supply and financial support to small businesses and the media have helped protect the poor and most vulnerable during the pandemic, according to the report.
“As the curve flattens and business activity picks up, the economy is showing signs of resilience and recovery,” AfDB Director Xiaohong Yang said.
The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) last week included Pakistan among seven countries he said the world could learn how to fight future pandemics.
Pakistan has deployed the infrastructure built for many years for polio to fight COVID-19. Community health workers who have been trained to go door-to-door to immunize children against polio have been used for surveillance, contact tracing and care, said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
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