Hong Kong to close secondary schools from Monday due to COVID fears

Students take the Secondary Education Diploma (DSE) exams on April 26, 2021 in Hong Kong, China. Anthony Kwan/Pool via REUTERS

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  • Secondary schools will close from January 24 until after the Lunar New Year
  • Increase in school infections; some students, teachers quarantined

HONG KONG, Jan 20 (Reuters) – Hong Kong will suspend face-to-face teaching in secondary schools from Monday until the Lunar New Year approaches, authorities said, due to a growing number of coronavirus infections in several schools in China. governed territory.

The government halted classes in primary schools and kindergartens earlier this month and imposed restrictions, such as a ban on eating out in restaurants after 6 p.m. and the closure of places such as gymnasiums, cinemas and beauty salons.

Schools will remain closed until February 7, after the Lunar New Year holiday, the government announced on Thursday. While sixth-grade students preparing for exams can have face-to-face lessons, all other levels must cancel or postpone exams and activities.

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“The epidemic situation has worsened in recent days,” the city’s education office said in a statement. “There have been numerous confirmed cases of unknown origin.”

The strict measures bring the Asian financial hub back to where it was after it first took such measures in 2020.

Hong Kong has followed mainland China’s path of zero tolerance for local COVID-19 cases, despite its increasingly disruptive and embarrassing effects at a time when the rest of the world turns to life. with the virus.

This year, there have been dozens of cases of the rapidly spreading Omicron variant within the community after the first recorded local transmission in late December.

Health authorities said there had also been transmissions of the Delta variant, not seen for many months. Officials said growing clusters, including one at a pet store, posed a high risk.

Cases in schools of confirmed or preliminary confirmed infections mean teachers and students must be tested and quarantined, the education office said.

Until the end of December, Hong Kong had no local transmission for more than three months.

In a bid to boost the city’s vaccination rate by around 70%, the government said children between the ages of five and 11 could be vaccinated in Sinovac in China from Friday.

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Reporting by Twinnie Siu and Edmond Ng; Written by Farah Master; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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