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COVID 19

COVID-19 cases surpass 100,000 in the Maldives.

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The total number of COVID-19 cases recorded in the Maldives has surpassed 100,000 according to the Health Protection Agency (HPA).

This comes just 4 days after the Health Ministry revealed that the current surge in cases was due to the Omicron variant of COVID-19 and that they expect the new wave to affect the whole nation.

The emergence of the Omicron variant in the Maldives has meant that the number of new daily cases has once again spiked with over 816 new cases recorded yesterday. This is the highest number of new cases recorded within the past 7 months.

Among the 816 new cases, 413 were from the capital city while 249 were from other inhabited islands and 92 were from resort islands. This brings up the active COVID-19 cases in the Maldives to 5,118 of which 25 people are admitted to hospitals and receiving treatment. The Maldives has one of the highest numbers of COVID-19 cases in relation to its population. As of now over 18.4% of the population has been infected with the disease since the pandemic began.

COVID 19

England lifts COVID-19 pandemic restriction-Omicron marks end of the pandemic.

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England has lifted its restrictions implemented in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Speaking at a press conference at Downing Street, Health Secretary Sajid Javad stated that the England will be lifting the restrictions implemented in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic but the legal requirement to self-isolate if tested positive for the virus will continue.

While Health Secretary Sajid Javad stated that it was a major milestone, he also stated that “It’s not the end of the road and we shouldn’t see this as the finish line because we cannot eradicate this virus and its future variants. Instead we must learn to live with Covid in the same way we have to live with flu”.

This has also meant that the work-from-home guidance would be ending with the majority of the nation’s workforce reverting to pre-pandemic work schedules. Additionally, students will also be no longer required to wear masks at schools.

Moreover, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also confirmed that the Government plans to end the legal requirement for positive cases to isolate by late March, but may move the date forward.

The U.S. has also hinted that the pandemic may be heading towards an end. Chief Medical Advisor to the President of the United States, Dr. Anthony Fauci has stated that the Omicron variant may mark the end of the pandemic.

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COVID-19: Restriction levels raised to “Red” as new cases surge.

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The Health Protection Agency (HPA) of Maldives has raised its restriction level from “Orange” to “Red” following the massive new wave of COVID-19.

According to the Health Protection Agency, the restriction status was raised due to the increasing number of new daily positive cases. The Health Ministry’s Quality Assurance Commissioner Thasleema Usmaan stated that the restriction levels were updated to raise public awareness on the raising number of COVID-19 cases.

On 16th January 2022 over 1,209 positive cases were recorded at “Orange” level and on 17th January 2022 the status was changed to “Red” with an additional 1,420 new cases. While the numbers are high, it is still considerably lower than the last time the restrictions levels were raised to “Red”. On the last occasion the levels were raised to “Red”, 2,194 new daily cases were recorded.

According to the statistics by HPA, a total of 105,001 positive cases has been recorded in the Maldives of which 6,456 are active cases. While only 32 of the active cases are receiving treatment at the COVID-19 facilities, 265 people have passed away due to the disease.

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COVID 19

Education sector badly hit in Indian capital by COVID-19, air pollution

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Educational institutions across India have been shut for the most part over the last one-and-a-half years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Delhi, air pollution has also played a spoilsport, particularly over the past couple of months, impacting the education sector to a great extent.

Successive closures, in quick succession, of schools and other educational institutions in India’s capital city have led to utter chaos and confusion in the minds of all students, teachers, parents and school management bodies.

Barely a few weeks after being opened, despite the COVID-19 outbreak has been under control, schools in Delhi were shut again in November and December last year due to high air pollution levels, which still rose beyond normal limits.

Currently, all schools are shut in the national capital for winter vacations.

Over the past several years, the arrivals of winter usually brought along high levels of air pollution. Air quality index (AQI) at times reaches the “dangerous” category with different reasons cited.

Considering that government officials were allowed to work from home to curb vehicular pollution in the city, the Delhi government thus ordered the closure of all schools till the air became cleaner.

Due to the repeated opening and closure of schools, the education sector has been hit the most, as a lot of parents or guardians decided to withdraw their kids from private schools to put them into government-run schools which charge negligible fees.

“Education sector has been hit hard over the years as students have no option but to take online classes. The academic syllabus of all classes has been drastically reduced. Now children are not reading all the syllabus which used to be taught till two years back,” says Saurabh Kumar, a Science Graduate and professionally trained teacher in Delhi.

Kumar says that adverse effects of today’s online classes and reduction of the syllabus would be felt five years down the line when today’s children would face difficulty in understanding the basics of subjects like Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology in particular.

According to him, the students taking online classes are not accessible to what they used to learn during physical classes in pre-pandemic times. “There is a lack of eye-to-eye contact between the teacher and students during online classes which makes all the difference in teaching and learning traits,” added Kumar.

The strength of teachers at private schools also has gone down drastically, he said, as school-owners are not able to afford teachers’ salaries. Parents are not willing to pay full fees as they are facing unemployment or financial losses during the pandemic.

“Most parents have suffered salary cuts or lost their jobs, hence can’t afford to pay private schools’ fee which is normally on the higher side,” said Kumar.

V.K. Banga, an educationist at a boarding school in southwest Delhi, said that closure of schools, mostly due to COVID-19, and at times due to high levels of air pollution, has adversely affected the overall education system in Delhi.

“Despite all the efforts being put in by teachers in setting up a supportive remote learning system, it has resulted in the actual loss,” Banga said, adding that many children of poor sections of society are not able to take online classes as they do not have the required gadgets like smartphones or laptops, which is a long-term loss in the nation’s overall growth.

“We hope things get normalized soon, and regular schooling, like pre-COVID-19 times, returns soon,” added Banga.

Presently the third COVID-19 has hit Delhi, as over 20,000 new cases and 20 deaths are registered per day in the capital, a sudden surge, as two weeks ago the daily new cases came to below-100 level with low death rates for days.

The steep rise in daily cases has resulted in lockdown-like situations in the city, as all educational institutions have been shut, weekend curfew and night curfew are in place and lately, restaurants and bars have been asked to close down their dining facility allowing only take-aways.

Source: Xinhua News Agency.

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