Pakistan shuts schools as case numbers rise among children

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 Pakistani authorities announced on Tuesday that most schools would remain closed for another three weeks as thousands of children were infected with the virus amid a third of wave of cases.

Students on grades one to eight were to remain at home until April 28, before the situation was reviewed again, Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood said in Islamabad.

Classes for grades nine to 12 were to resume on a staggered basis in two weeks, the minister said.

The country reported more than 100 deaths in the past 24 hours on Monday, the highest figure so far during the latest wave of infections.

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Fears were rising in Pakistan as more than 10,000 children have caught the deadly virus, health officials said.

The country was heading towards a grim milestone of 15,000 deaths since the outbreak began.

Last month, Pakistan closed all schools when the positivity rate of those tested for the Coronavirus reached 10 per cent.

Levels had slightly improved on Monday when just over 8 per cent of tests were positive.

Officials nonetheless called the situation alarming.

The slow rollout of vaccine also hindering the government’s attempts to improve the situation, Pakistan’s leading medic Faisal Sultan said.

After supplies were delayed under the global distribution system, Pakistan relied on political ally China for vaccine.

However, only around 1 million people have received their first jab so far, due to the sluggish rollout.

The Pakistan Medical Association, the country’s largest body of health care professionals, has advised the government against reopening schools until the current wave of cases subsides.

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