Govt can’t put students’ lives at stake: Hasina
Staff Correspondent:Admitting the losses Bangladesh’s education sector has suffered for the prolonged closure of educational institutions, prime minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said that the government could not put the lives of students at stake knowing it clearly that Covid-19 would infect them as well.
‘Children are also getting infected by coronavirus. They’ll learn but the question is whether we should force them to the verge of death knowing this virus will infect them, too,’ Sheikh Hasina said.
The prime minister said this while delivering her winding-up speech at the budget session in Parliament as a number of opposition MPs, including deputy leader of the opposition GM Quader, criticised the government for keeping educational institutions shut for an indefinite period.
Sheikh Hasina, also the leader of the house, said the government would open the educational institutions after vaccinating students.
She mentioned that the parents of students were also not interested in sending their children to educational institutions. ‘Those who’re most vocal about it have no children who are students or their children have already completed their education.’
Hasina said the government had already vaccinated the teachers and would provide vaccines for the students following the instructions of the World Health Organisation. ‘We’ve to follow WHO. Keeping that point in mind, we’ve started our job regarding vaccination of the students.’
Talking about the problem of getting coronavirus vaccines, the prime minister said the government has procured vaccines from India with cash. ‘But the sudden spike in coronavirus infections in India forced the country to impose a ban on vaccine export. We’ve faced problems for some days,’ she admitted.
Hasina informed the House that a good number of doses of Pfizer, Moderna and Sinopharm vaccines had already arrived in the country. ‘We’re also communicating with the countries where the vaccines of coronavirus are available. We’ll procure more vaccines; we’ll buy, no matter what the price is. For that, we’ve allocated separate funds.’
The prime minister said the government is communicating with China, Russia, the United States, Japan and Australia to collect vaccines, and the government would provide free vaccines to up to 80 per cent of people. ‘We’ve made the Covid-19 test free as the number of infected people has surged at the district level in recent times,’ she added.
WHO recommends Covid tests in schools to avoid closures
The World Health Organization said Friday that COVID-19 tests should be carried out in schools in some circumstances to avoid the “harmful” effects of closures and remote learning.
“The summer months offer a valuable window of opportunity for governments to put in place the right set of measures that will help keep infection rates down and avoid resorting to school closures,” Hans Kluge, WHO’s regional director for Europe, said in a statement issued together with UNICEF and UNESCO.
He added that closing schools “as we have seen, have such a harmful effect on the education, social and mental well-being of our children and youth.”
“We can’t allow the pandemic to rob children of their education and development,” said Kluge, who has repeatedly called for countries in the WHO’s European Region to address dropout rates and health effects linked to distance learning.
According to the new recommendations published on Friday, testing should be prioritized for symptomatic children with acute respiratory infection “of any severity” if they belong to a vulnerable group.
Also asymptomatic close contacts of COVID-19 cases should be considered for testing, the WHO said.
However, testing is not recommended if no coronavirus cases have been detected in a school, the WHO said.
The WHO’s European Region spans 53 countries and territories and includes several in Central Asia.
For the UN agencies, closing schools “should be considered only as a measure of last resort,” when there is an explosion of cases which cannot be controlled by other measures.
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