ISLAMABAD: Educational institutions with a high coronavirus positivity ratio would be closed for a week across Pakistan, the country’s pandemic response body announced on Friday, as the South Asian nation reported its highest daily infections since the start of the pandemic.
Pakistan recorded 23 deaths and 7,678 new coronavirus infections in the past 24 hours, according to official figures. The country reported the previous record high number of daily cases on June 13, 2020, when 6,825 people had tested positive for the virus.
The virus positivity ratio in the country shot up to 12.93 percent from 11.55 percent the previous day as it continues to battle an omicron-driven fifth wave of virus infections.
Health authorities have carried out COVID-19 testing in education institutes in major omicron-hit cities to ascertain the disease spread among students and ensure accurate disease mapping.
The data suggested a strong correlation between vaccination levels and infection rate in various cities, prompting the authorities to take different measures, including aggressive testing in educational institutes over the next two weeks.
“Education institutions / premises / sections / specific classes with high positivity to be closed for ONE Week,” the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC), Pakistan’s top pandemic response body, said in a statement.
“Provincial Administration in consultation with District Health, Education Authorities and School Administrations to set a threshold of cases for deciding such closures.”
Federating units would carry out special vaccination drives in schools to ensure 100 percent vaccination of students over 12 years of age, the NCOC added.
The rise in COVID-19 cases comes as authorities in the South Asian nation impose new restrictions to curb the fast-spreading omicron strain that is fueling the fifth wave of infections in the country.
Earlier this week, the NCOC banned indoor gatherings and imposed restrictions on schools from January 24 in cities where the COVID-19 positivity rate was above 10 percent.
But despite the surge, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday ruled out the possibility of a lockdown, saying Pakistan could not bring its economy to a standstill.