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Health Ministry urges transport safety programme

BY Buddhika Samaraweera

The Health Ministry has announced that relevant parties should formulate a programme to minimise the risk of the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic through public transport and school transport services after schools reopen.

Addressing a media briefing on 13 October, Health Ministry Communications Director, Public Health Services Deputy Director General (DDG), and Disaster Preparedness and Response Division Head Dr. Hemantha Herath said: “The relevant parties should take necessary steps to reduce the risk of the spread of Covid-19 through public transport and school transport services.”

He also said that the Health Ministry could not specify the course of action to be taken in such matters.

Speaking further, Dr. Herath said that students and their families should work together to reduce the risk of the spread of the disease at home through schoolchildren. “It is important that students don’t go to school if they have an illness related to Covid-19, and if anyone in any students’ home is diagnosed with Covid-19, such students should refrain from going to school until those persons are cured,” he added.

The Education Ministry has recently stated that it is planned to reopen a total of 3,000 schools from 21 October under the programme to reopen primary sections in schools coming under the purview of provincial councils (PCs) and with less than 200 students. The provincial governors had, during a meeting on 5 October, decided to reopen the primary sections of schools coming under the PCs and with less than 200 students from 21 October.

Meanwhile, Education Reforms, Open Universities, and Distance Learning Promotion State Minister Susil Premajayantha recently said that all schools are expected to reopen in four stages as soon as possible, subject to Covid-19-related health guidelines, as the number of daily Covid-19 infections and deaths is declining significantly these days.

Under the first stage, primary grades in schools with less than 200 students will be reopened from 21 October. Under the second stage, all grades in schools with less than 200 students and primary sections of schools with more than 200 students will be reopened. Under the third stage, Grades 10, 11, 12, and 13 of all schools, and all grades of schools with less than 200 students will be reopened. Under the fourth and final stage, all grades of all schools will be reopened.