Hong Kong people urged to stay home, no classes before Aug 17


A worker in a hazmat suit disinfecting a shop to protect the public from the Covid-19 coronavirus in Hong Kong on July 20, 2020. - AFP

HONG KONG (China Daily/ANN): Classes of all Hong Kong schools, including international schools and kindergartens, would not commence before Aug 17, the city’s education chief announced Monday (July 20) as the government urged the people to stay at home as much as possible.

The date for school commencement has not been decided yet in view of the worsening COVID-19 pandemic situation in the SAR, Kevin Yeung Yun-hung said at a press briefing. The public would be informed when a decision is made and be given two weeks for preparation, he added.

The decision came as the city recorded 73 new Covid-19 infections on Monday, with 66 local transmissions and seven imported cases. The new cases brought the city’s tally of confirmed cases to 1,958.

Of the additional local cases, almost half - 27 - were of unknown origins, said the city’s health department on Monday.

Officials have now detected 560 local infections in 16 days, with about a third of infections unlinked to confirmed cases or existing outbreaks, signaling that hidden chains of transmission are widespread.

“If the trend of cases continues to grow, of course there will be further stringent measures, including lockdown, ” Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the health department’s communicable disease branch, said in a briefing Monday.

The HKSAR government said it gazetted on Monday the directions under a relevant regulation to extend for another week the existing social distancing measures, including restriction on group gatherings, catering services and entertainment facilities, and required mask-wearing on board public transport carrier.

The HKSAR government said in a press release on Monday evening that it strongly urges the public to stay at home as much as possible, go out less often unless necessary, and avoid dining out and unnecessary social activities including private gatherings, so as to fight the epidemic together and prevent the virus from continuing to spread in the community.

“We have to take health and safety of teachers and students as well as of the general public as prime consideration, ” Yeung said.

According to the secretary for education, special arrangement will likely to be made for cross-boundary students of Secondary 4 to 6 once the schools re-open. This is subject to more discussions with the mainland authorities, he added.

Such special arrangement, however, are unlikely to be made for those of Secondary 3 or junior classes at the beginning of the new school year, said Yeung. “We will work with schools to arrange home learning for these students, and provide necessary support, ” he added.

The Education Bureau will pay close attention to the pandemic situation, consult health experts and liaise with the school sector in determining the arrangement for the commencement of classes in the new school year, said Yeung.

According to Hong Kong's Hospital Authority, as of Monday noon, 1,302 patients with confirmed or probable infection have been discharged from hospitals after recovery, while 562 confirmed patients are currently hospitalised in 14 hospitals, including 23 in critical condition and 13 in serious condition.

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