KABUL, Afghanistan

Schools and other educational institutions started to reopen in Afghanistan on Sunday after months of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the health and education officials, the reopening would be gradual in provinces in relation to the prevalence of COVID-19.

Hamid Obaidi, an Education Ministry official, said the academic centers would be reopened in provinces where the ratio of positive cases is below 35%. “All university students, teachers, and staff would be vaccinated for this,” he said.

Back in May, Afghanistan suddenly closed down all universities, schools, and other academic institutions as the country recorded the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the current third wave of the pandemic.

With the closure of academic institutions, the annual university entrance examinations in the capital Kabul also got suspended.

In February, grappling with a shortage of vaccines and oxygen, Afghanistan began the rollout of the Indian-made COVID-19 vaccine following the World Health Organization’s emergency use approval.

The Afghan government has repeatedly called for more international support to vaccinate at least 20% of the estimated 38 million population this year, and 60% by the end of 2022.

Health Ministry officials told Anadolu Agency the administration of vaccines has gained momentum following a sudden rise in infections and corresponding deaths since April.

According to the Ministry of Public Health, up to 40,000 people were getting the jabs daily across the country with officials aiming to take it up to 100,000 per day.

The country’s health minister said the Afghan government plans to acquire up to 12 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines by early 2022.

Afghanistan on Sunday recorded 52 more coronavirus-related fatalities and 414 new infections taking the death toll to 6,477 and the total number of infections to 144,285.

As per the UN estimates, vaccination rates remain extremely low in Afghanistan, with less than 4% of the population vaccinated, while the virus continues to deeply affect the lives of the most vulnerable children and families across the country as they face the compounded impact of the pandemic, conflict, and drought.​​​​​

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