Hong Kong to shut schools as local Covid-19 infections rise

Schools will have to choose if they want to continue with planned tests next week or postpone them.
Schools will have to choose if they want to continue with planned tests next week or postpone them. PHOTO: REUTERS

HONG KONG - Fears of a third wave of Covid-19 cases have prompted the city's government to shut local schools early for summer holidays.

Officials had to deal with two waves in February and April.

Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung on Friday (July 10) announced that all kindergartens, primary and secondary schools are to close from Monday. The government will also decide if the coming school year can start in August or September as planned.

Mr Yeung said the schools will have to choose if they want to continue with planned tests next week or postpone them as the risk of Covid-19 transmission in an exam setting is low.

"It's now very close to the planned summer vacation anyway - we are talking about seven to ten days - so we think that for the general good of the community as well as for the health of the students, we think that we can advance the commencement of the summer vacation to next Monday," said Mr Yeung.

He added that although some students and parents were infected in recent days, not a single case was due to it being spread in school.

Hong Kong schools were first shut during the Chinese New Year period and classes only resumed in late May and June.

The city reported 38 more cases on Friday, bringing the total number of confirmed Covid-19 patients to 1,403. Seven people have died.

Most of the new cases or 32 were local ones and the rest imported. Eleven of the local cases were residents in a Sha Tin estate.

 
 
 

On Friday, local media reported that more than 10 residents in a Sha Tin estate were sent to hospitals due to an outbreak there.

In the past week or so, dozens of local cases were linked to an elderly care home, taxi drivers and eateries, prompting the government to announce on Thursday the tightening of some social distancing measures.

Health authorities had reported 34 locally transmitted cases on the same day - the most in a single day since the pandemic began.

From Saturday (July 11), the operating capacity of eateries will be capped at 60 per cent and each table, which must be spaced 1.5 metres apart, should have no more than eight patrons.

In bars, pubs and nightclubs, only a maximum of four people are allowed at a table.

No more than eight people are allowed at venues where people will remove their face masks such as karaoke lounge rooms, party rooms and gyms.