The government has decided to keep all educational institutions in the country closed till April 5 as a precautionary measure to contain the spread of novel coronavirus.
The decision was taken by the country’s top civil and military leadership at a meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC), presided over PM Imran Khan in Islamabad on Friday, Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood announced through his official Twitter handle.
“This includes all schools and universities, public and private, vocational institutions and madaris,” he wrote on Twitter.
In a meeting of the National Security Committee presided over PM Imran Khan, it has been decided to close all educational institutions in the country till April 5. This includes all schools and universities, public and private, vocational institutions and madaris.
— Shafqat Mahmood (@Shafqat_Mahmood) March 13, 2020
The situation, he added, would be reviewed the Ministry of Education March 27 to devise the future course of action.
Prime Minister Imran Khan chaired the meeting, called to hammer out a strategy to deal with coronavirus as the army chief ordered his top commanders to gear up “in support of a national effort” to counter the pathogen.
Services chiefs including Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Director General Lt-Gen Faiz Hameed apart from chief ministers, top advisers and cabinet ministers attended the meeting of top consultative body.
“The government has convened the NSC meeting to review the situation arising out of coronavirus in the country. The government was already on alert to prevent the disease,” the prime minister had announced on Thursday while addressing a parliamentary party meeting of the ruling PTI.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the outbreak a pandemic.
The NSC meeting was announced as the country confirmed its 21st novel coronavirus case in Sindh while Punjab – the country’s most populous province – declared a “health emergency” to deal with the contagious disease.
According to Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood, the NSC was to decide the kind of measures to be taken to deal with the situation including “refraining people from participating in public gathering”.
Earlier on Thursday, the 230th Corps Commanders’ Conference – chaired by Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa at the General Headquarters – discussed among other things the contagion – also called COVID-19.
“The forum also discussed emerging situation with regards to the coronavirus and preventive measures taken at the military level. The COAS directed all concerned to gear up preparations in support of national effort to counter this pandemic in case of any eventuality,” said a statement issued by the military’s media wing.
Meanwhile, the federal government has established 35 isolation wards all over the country to cater to COVID-19 pandemic.
The tally for confirmed COVID-19 cases in Pakistan stood at 21 with 15 cases in Sindh, five in Gilgit-Baltistan and one in Balochistan on Friday.
At least 110 have been tested in Punjab, 251 in Sindh, 30 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 18 in Balochistan, nine in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and 32 in Galgit-Baltistan.
So far Punjab, K-P, AJK and federal territories have not reported any confirmed case of the novel coronavirus.