LUMS established the Health and Safety Committee at the height of the pandemic in Pakistan in June 2020 to consider ways to reopen the campus if conditions permit.
Throughout the review process, the committee was led by health experts, including Dr. Samia Altaf, an internationally recognized public health doctor, who has now joined LUMS as the director of campus health and safety. And Dr. Shapes Mirza, who is an associate professor in the LUMS School of Science and Engineering, specializing in epidemiology, immunology and bacterial pathogenesis. She also participated in the team that provided the Punjab government with advice on the smart lock-in strategy in Lahore.
The committee also maintained close contact with the DHA authorities and local hospitals and cemeteries. As a result, the committee is always guided by local information and global trends.
Last month, the number of cases in Pakistan has dropped to an unprecedented rate, and the speed has surprised experts and many organizations and institutions, including universities. Although this is very positive news, it must be framed by a comprehensive understanding of COVID-19.
On a global scale, if you give up prematurely, the consequences will be serious and the disease will reappear. We do know that one of the viruses is that it may remain in the population for at least the next two years.
We also know that when humans gather together, the virus begins to spread rapidly-such as countries with no infection or very low infection rates in recent months (South Korea, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Greece, France, Spain, and Germany).
Similarly, the nature of the university-a large young population, many people living in hotels, and opportunities for congregations-means that there is a high probability of cases in this environment, as evidenced by the recent outbreak in the United States. The university had to be closed for a few days after it opened.
The next few months will be critical to deciding whether Pakistan is in the worst situation or temporarily complacent. The government itself continues to state that if due diligence is not conducted, the virus still has a strong ability to reproduce. At least this requires caution.
The unique and unexplainable decline in the infection rate in Pakistan conflicts with the rapid spread of the SOP, including Iran and India’s neighbors, and the possibility of universities being infected. High-risk areas are some of the reasons why LUMS adopts protective measures.
But this does not mean that the university is not committed to reopening its campus. LUMS recognizes that we must find a way to fulfill our role as an academic institution while working to ensure the safety of the community. A closed university is not good for anyone-students suffer, faculty suffer, employees suffer.
However, the reopening of the campus also brings huge risks. The risks are not limited to students, but also include the faculty and staff who teach them and the many university employees who are in close contact with them every day. One of the biggest challenges facing COVID-19 is how to ensure that 90% of the population is at a much lower risk, so you may not understand why you should proceed with caution and ensure that 10% of the population is at a much higher risk and protected.
The value of the community must lie in how it protects the most vulnerable groups in the community. A young and healthy person may not be dangerous, but may be dangerous to others. The agency is responsible for minimizing risks.
Keeping all these in mind, LUMS’s plan is to open in stages, starting from September 15, 2020 to manage a limited number of students on campus. Due to the limited number, students will need to be prioritized-students who are not connected, PhD. Students must complete degree courses and other disadvantaged groups of study.
The exact details are the authority of the health experts to make plans. If students, faculty, staff, and the wider community can cooperate, follow SOPs, and the existing system can respond to it, thereby minimizing the risk of uncontrolled epidemics, then the university will be better able to build on this success and gradually increase Follow-up numbers on campus. Strategies that are rushed or rarely considered may be more prone to outbreaks and may require longer lock-up times.
LUMS is guided by the above reasoning and is always committed to the health and safety of its community, and will continue to be guided by this primary concern. Until September 15, 2020, we will discuss the detailed plan of the opening plan in stages, including the number and priorities.
Last Updated on 08/24/2020