April 8, 2021 | healthcare

Reopening Kurdistan Region schools is ‘dangerous’: Minister of Health


ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — The Kurdistan Region’s Minister of Health said on Wednesday that reopening schools at the current moment of the coronavirus pandemic is “dangerous,” arguing that they should remain closed for the time being.

“If you ask me, today, returning to classes and increasing personal contact is very dangerous, and is not suitable for now,” Saman Barzanji told Rudaw’s Rozhan Abubakir on Wednesday. “Based on the data we have at the moment, it is better to extend the school closure.”

According to the new coronavirus restrictions announced by Barzanji on March 30, schools and universities will be closed until April 10. Only Grade 12 students and students taking practical classes will attend in-person lessons, and universities currently holding examinations will continue to take them on-campus.

However, with the number of new COVID-19 cases having risen significantly in recent weeks, officials are not hopeful that schools will reopen.

'Due to the increase in coronavirus cases in the region, it is not possible to reopen schools,' Abdulsalam Dolamari, the head of the Parliamentary Committee for Education, Higher Education, and Scientific Research, told Rudaw’s Ranja Jamal on Wednesday.

“None of us are willing to hold the responsibility of risking the lives of students and their families,” he added. “If we do not find any other substitutes, we will have to move to virtual learning, even though I personally do not think that the virtual method would be fair on all students.”

The Kurdistan Region has seen a steady increase in daily new infections since mid-February. New rules and restrictions to prevent the spread of the virus were announced before the Newroz holiday, but were largely ignored by the public.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region Masrour Barzani raised concern regarding the spread of the coronavirus.

'I hope that people take this virus seriously,' Barzani said in a press conference. 'I ask the people of Kurdistan to abide by the health measures set by the ministry, and use the vaccines that have been provided.”

The Region received more than 43.00 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine on March 26.

Iraq previously received 50.00 doses of the Chinese-made Sinopharm vaccine and is due to also receive the Russian-made Sputnik vaccine in the coming weeks. Five thousand of the Sinopharm doses were gifted to the Kurdistan Region from China.

The Kurdistan Region on Tuesday recorded 856 new cases and 12 deaths in 24 hours, bringing the total cases to 127,047 and the deaths to 3,743.

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