By Jamila Achakzai
ISLAMABAD: One hundred and three people lost their lives to COVID-19 in the 24 hours, while the tally of active cases reached 63,102 with 3,953 more testing positive and 2,198 recovering.
Of the 103 patients, 93 were under treatment in hospitals, according to the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC).
Most of the deaths occurred in Punjab followed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. As many as 44 died on the ventilator.
The maximum number of ventilators were occupied in Multan (70%), Islamabad Capital Territory (57%), Gujranwala (60%) and Lahore (67%). The maximum Oxygen beds (alternative oxygen providing facility other than ventilator administered as per medical requirement of COVID-19 patient) were occupied in Swat (64%), Gujranwala (85%), Peshawar (77%) and Gujrat (78%).
Around 432 ventilators were occupied elsewhere in the country, while no affected person was on ventilator in Gilgit Baltistan (GB) and Balochistan.
Around 46,665 tests were conducted across the country on Monday, including 10,300 in Sindh, 19,304 in Punjab, 7,198 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), 7,500 in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), 1,148 in Balochistan, 396 in GB, and 819 in AJK.
Around 618,158 people have recovered so far across Pakistan making it a significant count with over 90 percent recovery ratio.
Since the pandemic outbreak, a total of 696,184 cases have been detected -- including the persons who have died, recovered and those under treatment. They include 13,529 in AJK, 19,855 in Balochistan, 5,061 in GB, 62,211 in ICT, 93,033 in KP, 235,569 in Punjab and 266,926 in Sindh.
Around 14,924 deaths have been recorded in the country since the eruption of the contagion.
Around 4,510 have perished in Sindh, 6,675 in Punjab, 2,469 in KP, 584 in ICT, 211 in Balochistan, 103 in GB and 372 in AJK. A total of 10,493,362 corona tests have been conducted so far.
Meanwhile, Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar Tuesday said more than one million people from across the country had so far been vaccinated. More than 76,000 vaccinations were carried out yesterday, the minister twitted.
He said the total number of people registered so far was now over two million out of which 600,000 were health care workers and more than 1.4 million people were over 50 years.
He called upon all those above 50 to register for vaccination.
In another tweet, Asad Umar said increased restrictions, broader lockdowns and stronger SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) enforcement had started producing effect as the positivity ratio had slowed down.
Meanwhile, as the country continues to battle the third wave of coronavirus, the federal government Tuesday extended school closures in the infection hotspots, including Islamabad, until April 28 for in-person learning of students from Grades 1 to 8.
It, however, allowed those in Grade 9 through 12 to return to campuses on April 19.
The government had closed educational institutions in Islamabad and Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) districts with high COVID-19 positivity rate on March 25 until April 11 in a bid to stem the spread of the virus.
“Classes for Grade 1 to 8 will not be held in the coronavirus-hit districts and this will go on until April 28. However, classes for Grade 9 through 12 will resume on April 19 with strict enforcement of the SOPs in a staggered way even in the affected districts so that students complete course and prepare for exams,” Minister for Federal Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mahmood told reporters at the National Command and Operation Centre.
Shafqat, accompanied by the provincial and regional education and health ministers and relevant officials, reviewed the coronavirus incidence in the country, especially in hotspots, for resumption of in-person instruction in educational institutions.
He announced that the universities in coronavirus-hit districts would stay closed for in-person learning and the classes would be held online.
The minister said as around four million students across the country were scheduled to appear in local board exams, the government had decided that exams for Grade 9 through 12 would be held in the third week of May.
He added that the date sheet announced by Punjab would also be revised so that the coronavirus situation was under control by the time exams begin and children have time to prepare.
“All provinces and boards have given separate timetables but nothing will happen before May 24,” he said.
Shafqat Mahmood said the universities had been asked to push back admission deadlines.
Regarding A and O level examinations, he said around 85,000 students were scheduled to sit those exams.
“It was unanimously recommended to allow O and A Level exams to go forward as planned. This is because these concern a significantly smaller number of students,” he said, adding that Cambridge International had assured strict implementation of SOPs in the exam halls.
The Cambridge exams are slated for May 10.
The minister denied that Cambridge exams weren’t being held in other countries of the region.
“That impression is not correct. Apart from Bangladesh, Cambridge exams are being held in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and other countries,” he said.
Shafqat said data from Cambridge showed that 80 per cent of countries were having exams.
“I want to repeat this exams for A and O level will be held according to the date sheet. There will be no change in it, so the students should prepare for them and not be distracted,” he said.
The minister said last year, the students for Grades 9, 10 and 11 were passed on the grade for the previous year.
“Now, we don’t even have that, so it is important to give the exams,” he said.
In a tweet shortly after the news conference, the minister advised students to prepare for exams and work hard. “Decisions regarding exams are final. They won’t change, so no one should have any uncertainty in their mind. Everything has been done keeping the interest of education in mind. My very best wishes to everyone,” he said.
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