Virus-hit schools may close

THE state Education Department can make the call to close schools if Covid-19 cases spike further.

Penang Health Department director Datuk Dr Asmayani Khalib (pic) said there were reports of one or two classes that were closed due to the dwindling numbers of students, and schools could be closed if needed.

“While we can advise the Education Department on the situation or rise in cases, the Education Department can make the call to close schools.

“Let me see what are the latest figures and if there is an increase, we will act accordingly, ” she told newsmen after receiving the Darjah Setia Pangkuan Negeri (DSPN) award from Yang di-Pertua Negri Tun Abdul Rahman Abbas in Penang yesterday.

Dr Asmayani said schools were still open as of now although some classes were empty due to many parents not sending their children to school due to the increase in Covid-19 cases.

While Malaysia recorded a drop in its daily Covid-19 cases, with 1,063 on Tuesday, Penang saw an increase to 175 cases.

On the vaccination drive, Dr Asmayani said 18,000 frontliners had been vaccinated in the state with 28% registered on MySejahtera.

“With the two private hospitals of Island Hospital and Lam Wah Ee Hospital on board, we could handle the frontliners in these hospitals other than at the 19 government vaccination centres.

“The registration rate is higher because other than MySejahtera, people are also registering through other platforms.”

Asked if all phases of the immunisation programme could be completed within this year, Dr Asmayani said it could be done as the state was on track with the programme.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow urged the state Education Department to act promptly if there were Covid-19 outbreaks in schools.

“Take drastic action with immediate effect by closing schools or implementing 100% online teaching in homes.

“The Education Department should analyse the risks of students, teachers and staff being present at schools.

“The state was notified that schools were not allowed to close unless the directive comes from the Education Minister, although active cases were reported in several schools on the mainland, ” said Chow in a statement.

It was reported on Tuesday that a school in Simpang Ampat, Nibong Tebal on mainland Penang had to close because at least 10 pupils tested positive for Covid-19.

The pupils who tested positive for Covid-19 were believed to be from three classes in Year Four and Year Six.

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