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Bangladesh doing 'utmost' to keep schools open despite omicron fears

  • Staff Correspondent, bdnews24.com
    Published: 2022-01-09 18:37:05 BdST

bdnews24
Teachers instruct students on health rules at Viqarunnisa Noon School and College in Dhaka after the resumption of in-person classes amid the coronavirus pandemic on Sunday, Sept 12, 2021. Photo: Kazi Salahuddin Razu

Education Minister Dipu Moni says the government is making an all-out effort to create a safe school environment for students amid mounting fears over the spread of a highly-transmissible new strain of COVID-19, omicron.

There are no immediate plans to shut down educational institutions but that could change if infections continue to surge, she told reporters on Sunday.

"If it appears that cases are rising as a result of schools staying open, then we will close them.

"But at present, we are trying to ensure that our educational institutions are safe so that they cannot be linked to the spread of infection."

The government closed all educational institutions in March 2020 as part of the sweeping restrictions to stem the spread of the coronavirus in the country. Once the situation improved, students returned to the classroom on Sept 12 last year.

But as the dust began to settle on the devastation wreaked by the delta variant, scientists in South Africa discovered the omicron strain in November.

According to a Danish study, omicron is better at evading immunity derived from vaccines than delta and it has now become the dominant strain worldwide.

Bangladesh has identified 21 cases of omicron so far, while there has been a marked uptick in daily COVID infections in recent weeks.

In light of the growing concerns about the pandemic, the education ministry will hold a meeting with the National Advisory Committee on COVID-19 later on Sunday to discuss ways to keep students in the classrooms.

"After reviewing the overall situation and seeing what options we have, [we will take steps] with full regard to the health and hygiene rules. Now that the vaccination campaign is in full swing, we will make every effort to vaccinate everyone and keep educational institutions open."

Bangladesh is currently administering vaccine shots to students in the 12-17 age group.

Dipu Moni also urged the people not to pay any heed to the "rumours" that educational institutions are going to be shut down.