ISLAMABAD, Nov. 23 (Xinhua) -- Pakistan on Monday decided to close educational institutions nationwide from Nov. 26 to Jan. 10 next year and halt all academic exams during the period following rises in the cases of COVID-19.
Addressing a press briefing here after a meeting with provincial education ministers, federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood said that the decision was made in the best interest of the country.
The students will continue their studies online till Dec. 24, followed by winter vacations, and the school reopening is scheduled for Jan. 10, according to him.
The final decision to reopen schools in January will be based on an evaluation by related authorities, and if the coronavirus epidemic is under control, education activities will be resumed, according to the minister.
Local media reported that the COVID-19 infection ratio in schools has surged to over 3 percent from 1 percent previously during the second wave of the coronavirus outbreak in the country.
It is the second time for Pakistan to close schools in order to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. The nationwide educational institutions had been closed from March 13 to Sept. 15, during the first wave of the virus outbreak.
Pakistan has recently seen daily spikes in COVID-19 infections with the virus positivity rate surged to 7.46 percent on Sunday, the daily highest since July 22. The health ministry has advised the government to take tough decisions to prevent further spread of the epidemic.
According to the ministry, a total of 376,929 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the country, with 330,885 of them having recovered and 7,696 died from the epidemic.
The country currently has 38,348 active cases mostly held in home quarantine, with 1,677 patients in critical condition being treated in hospitals.