Government has postponed the reopening of primary, secondary, and tertiary learning institutions in all parts of the country to a later date due to the cholera outbreak.
Speaking at a joint press briefing with the Ministry of General Education and Ministry of Higher Education, Minister of Health Dr Chitalu Chilufya said the decision would be reviewed on January 30, 2018.
Meanwhile, General Education Minister Dennis Wanchinga, who is also acting Higher Education Minister, said the decision was made to allow the Ministry of Health to put in place measures that will end the spread of the disease.
“As of today we have recorded a total of 2,047 cases and Lusaka alone is accounting for 2, 000 cases. Cumulatively, we have recorded 50 deaths with Lusaka accounting for 47 deaths. We have mounted a robust multi-sectoral approach involving various sectors. As part of the escalation of the response, I did issue statutory instrument number 79 of 2017 which invoked certain provisions of the public health act to ensure that we prevent spread of the outbreak and also prevent loss of lives. Today we are discussing a key subject that is the reopening of schools at primary, secondary, and tertiary level. So we gather here today to make an announcement that the reopening of schools at primary and tertiary level is being differed countrywide in order for us to monitor the evolution of the epidemic and we will review this decision on January 30th 2018,” Dr Chilufya said.
Dr Chilufya said pupils and students from cholera epicenters could spread it if schools were allowed to open.
“This decision is to avoid many gatherings in various schools and remember that there are children who are coming from areas which we are describing as the epic centre of the epidemic and they will be mixing with children from other areas. So there maybe cross contamination and that may escalate the epidemic. Secondly there are children who may be coming from Lusaka from the epic centres who may need to travel to boarding schools outside Lusaka to various parts of the country. So we will be suddenly be having a possibility of carriers or people who are still incubating or still shading in various parts of the country and this disease will spread in various parts of the country and will spiral out of control. So in line with the statutory instrument, we are restricting movements. We do not want school children to move outside the epi-centre to various schools where they will co-mingle with other children or to move out of Lusaka to various parts of the country so that we start fire fighting in different parts of the country. So this is an important measure and will apply to all schools nationally and we will be able to review this decision by January 30th, 2018,” said Dr Chilufya.
And Wanchinga said the Ministries of Higher and General Education would cooperate with the Ministry of Health for the good of all students.