Eye Virus Forces Closure of 56,000 Pakistan Schools
Punjab Government Announces 4-Day School Closure
The government of Punjab recently declared a 4-day school holiday spanning from 28th September to 1st October 2023. This decision, which applies to both public and private institutions across the province, was a proactive measure to control the spread of conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye infection. With an alarming surge in the number of cases, the government hopes that the closure will disrupt the cycle of infection among students.
Preventing Further Infection Amidst School Children
The decision for the closure was made following a visit to a government school by the caretaker Punjab Chief Minister. Observing several students affected by conjunctivitis, he recognized the importance of preventing further spread of this highly contagious infection among students. As part of the mitigation strategy, the caretaker Chief Minister instructed the school’s secretary to ensure that children suffering from conjunctivitis are not allowed to attend school. Further, teachers have been directed to screen students at the main entrance of the schools from Monday to prevent the spread of the disease.
Standard Operating Procedures Post Closure
Upon reopening on 2nd October 2023, all schools will be required to observe the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) issued by the Department to curb the spread of the pink eye infection. These SOPs involve strict implementation of health checks at the main entrances of schools. Students found to exhibit symptoms of conjunctivitis will not be permitted to enter the school premises, thereby limiting the potential for further spread of the infection.
Conjunctivitis, also known as red or pink eye, is an eye condition triggered by either infection or allergies. It often affects both eyes, causing redness, itchiness, and discharge. Despite its discomfort, it usually improves within a couple of weeks without treatment. However, the condition is highly contagious and can spread through close contact, making schools a high-risk environment. Hence, the precautionary measures taken by the Punjab government are vital in controlling its spread.
Precautionary Measures for Students
Given the highly contagious nature of conjunctivitis, students have been advised to use prescribed eye drops and tissues for eye cleansing, with the option of using cold water for temporary relief. They have been urged to maintain high standards of hygiene, including regular use of hand sanitizers and avoiding touching their eyes without thoroughly washing hands. The health department has also advised against sharing personal items with individuals suffering from the infection, including pillows, clothing, medication, and bedding.
Deep Cleaning and Sanitization of School Premises
During the closure, school premises will undergo deep cleaning and sanitization procedures to minimize the risk of further transmission. This step, coupled with the screening of students upon reopening, is anticipated to significantly limit the spread of the infection, ensuring the safety and well-being of the students.
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