New COVID variant: Rajasthan asks schools not to force students for offline classes;  Delhi government calls for meeting



JAIPUR: Educational institutions cannot pressurise parents to send their children for offline studies, said the revised guidelines released by the state government in view of rising number of Covid-19 cases.

Online studies facility will have to be continued regularly, the guidelines said.

According to new instructions released by Home Department on Friday, students will have to get a written permission from parents before coming to institutes.

There will be no morning prayer and canteens at all educational institutes will remain closed.

It has also been made mandatory for teaching and non-teaching staff to get both the doses of vaccine 14 days prior to coming to the institutes.

Institutes will be closed for 10 days if a single case of Covid-19 is reported on campus, according to one of the provisions.

Also, bus and auto have been ordered to operate as per their seating capacity for transportation of students.

‘No mask, No entry rule’ and rules for physical distancing and sanitation have to be followed, they said.

The Delhi government has called a meeting of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority on Monday to discuss steps that need to be taken in view of threat of a new COVID-19 variant from African countries, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said.

The Centre on Thursday had asked all states and union territories to conduct rigorous screening and testing of all international travellers coming from or transiting through South Africa, Hong Kong and Botswana, where a new COVID-19 variant of serious public health implications has been reported.

“In view of the threat from a new COVID-19 variant from African countries, we have requested experts to make a presentation to the DDMA on Monday and suggest what steps we should take. We will take all steps necessary to protect you and your family,” Kejriwal tweeted on Friday.

The new variant of COVID-19, feared to have a high amount of spike mutations unseen before, has been detected in South Africa, with authorities there confirming 22 positive cases associated with it on Thursday.

Dr Tom Peacock, a virologist at the Imperial College London, had posted details of the new variant classed as B.1.1.529 on his Twitter account earlier this week, following which scientists have been weighing in on what is being considered a variant of concern, though it is yet to be formally categorised in the UK.

Scientists the world over will be watching the new variant for signs of gaining momentum or spreading more widely and rapidly.

The high number of spike mutations are concerning from the point of view of both higher transmissibility and immune evasion.

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