No school for 300 million students due to coronavirus Students wearing protective masks attend an admission exam for the Triam Udom Suksa School, Bangkok, Thailand March 5, 2020. REUTERS/Chalinee Thirasupa
ALMOST 300 million students worldwide faced weeks at home on Thursday (5) with Italy the latest country to shut schools over the deadly Covid-19.
More than 95,000 people have been infected and over 3,200 have died worldwide from the virus, which has now reached some 80 countries and territories.
The UNESCO said that 13 countries have closed schools, affecting 290.5 million children, while nine others have implemented localised closures.
“The global scale and speed of the current educational disruption is unparalleled and, if prolonged, could threaten the right to education,” said UNESCO chief Audrey Azoulay.
The vast majority of global deaths and infections are in China, where the virus first emerged late last year, prompting the country to quarantine entire cities, temporarily shut factories and close schools indefinitely.
South Korea — the country with the largest number of cases outside China with nearly 6,000 — has postponed the start of the current term until March 23.
Italy on Wednesday (4) ordered schools and universities to be shut until March 15, ramping up its response as the national death toll rose to 107, the deadliest outbreak outside China.
In Japan, nearly all schools are closed after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for classes to be cancelled through March and spring break, slated for late March through early April.
Some 120 schools closed in France this week in areas with the largest numbers of infections.
In Pakistan, where five cases have been reported so far, provincial governments have announced school closures. Schools in Sindh will remain shut till March 13, in Balochistan till March 15 and in Gilgit-Baltistan till March 7.