Un-mitigating virus

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REPORTS emanating from different regions speak of rapid rise in Covid-19 infections as, on Sunday, the country reported 6,127 coronavirus infections, marking the highest daily number of Covid-19 cases since 14 June 2020, when 6,365 cases were reported from across Pakistan.

According to the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), the number of coronavirus cases has reached 756,285 while the positivity rate has climbed to 8.5 percent.

In 24 hours, Punjab reported 3,562 cases, Sindh 673, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 958, Balochistan 62, Islamabad 650, Gilgit-Baltistan 2 and Azad Jammu and Kashmir reported 220 such cases.

The figures released by the NCOC portray a dismal picture as infections are surging despite several restrictions imposed by the Centre and also by the provinces keeping in view their own ground realities.

In this backdrop, the announcement of the Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood about reopening of classes 9 to 12 to allow the students to prepare for board examinations, though understandable, could have a negative impact on the overall situation if SOPs were not enforced strictly.

However, the decision that universities would continue to operate with online learning in the affected districts while they would continue functioning as per normal in districts with less than eight per cent Covid-19 positivity is pragmatic.

Meanwhile, amid the rise of coronavirus cases, the government of Balochistan has decided to close primary, middle and secondary schools across the province and the Sindh Government has decided to suspend physical classes from grades I to VIII in all public and private schools till May 1.

The situation demands evolution of alternative but sophisticated means of education including homework, online classes, use of WhatsApp and email through collaborative efforts as complete normalization might remain an elusive dream until the majority of the population is vaccinated against the virus.

People above sixty are already being administered vaccines while inoculation drive to vaccinate people in the age group of 50-59 will begin from this week.

However, the availability of the vaccine and pace of vaccination are two major hurdles, which must be removed on a priority basis as local activities and international travel are directly linked to the success of the campaign.