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Health Ministry requested delay in schools opening

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The request was issued as health institutions are swamped with the demands of the second wave of Covid-19.

Man showing stop signal using his hands.
The start of the school year was delayed. Picture: Pixabay

The delay in the reopening of schools this year was a result of a request from the Ministry of Health, the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education said. The request was issued as health institutions are swamped with the demands of the second wave of Covid-19.

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) delivered a briefing to the committee informing it of the delay during the evening of January 20. Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigaba, chairperson of the committee, said: “In understanding the challenges and constraints in the health system, the decision to delay the reopening of schools for the start of the academic year was the correct one.

“The reality is that Covid-19 is around. It has dealt with our families and friends. If delaying the restart of schools means that we can save family and friends, then we are in favour of this.”

Altogether 16 495 educators have been infected and 409 have died since March last year.

The committee was informed by the DBE the hospitalisation rate has risen with the second wave. There has been an increase in infection rates in older children and young adults.

A British government review from November 13 showed mounting evidence older children could become infected and transmit the virus at similar rates to adults.

Evidence suggested children were less severely affected than adults by the new strain. Possible reasons range from better blood vessel health to lower levels of an enzyme allowing the virus to enter the cells.