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Hong Kong closes more schools as COVID-19 situation turns 'severe', health minister says

Hong Kong closes more schools as COVID-19 situation turns 'severe', health minister says

People wearing masks to protect against the coronavirus walk across a street in Hong Kong, Oct 9, 2020. (Photo: AP/Kin Cheung)

HONG KONG: Hong Kong has suspended in-person classes for lower primary school students after the city’s top health official said the COVID-19 situation in the city was rapidly deteriorating.

Classes for Primary 1 to 3 students will be suspended for two weeks from Monday (Nov 23). The suspension comes more than a week after kindergartens were ordered to close following an outbreak of upper respiratory tract infections.

Hong Kong confirmed 26 new coronavirus infections on Friday, 21 of which are local cases.

“I would appeal to people to stop all unnecessary gathering activities because the situation is severe now in Hong Kong,” Hong Kong's Secretary for Food and Health Professor Sophia Chan said.

Hong Kong is due to launch an air travel bubble with Singapore on Sunday.

Currently, the air travel bubble remains on track, although it could be suspended according to the agreement between Singapore and Hong Kong if the seven-day moving average for unlinked coronavirus infections exceeds five in either city.

Prof Chan said Hong Kong has "probably entered into a new wave of cases", citing experts and information from the Centre for Health Protection.

"But of course we are now doing our best, and before this severe situation started, in the past week, we have already tightened many of our measures, including border control measures, quarantine measures, hotel regulation measures, and also some of the social distancing measures," she said.

Prof Chan added that Hong Kong has ramped up its testing capacity and set up four community testing centres, adding that the government would continue to tighten measures. 

She said that Hong Kong must "do more at different junctures, different points" when it comes to border control measures.

For those coming into Hong Kong, pre-departure COVID-19 tests are required and flights are also stopped if there are more confirmed cases. Testing measures have also been tightened at the airport and "everybody has to be tested at the airport", said Prof Chan.

People returning to Hong Kong, except those from mainland China, are required to be quarantined at hotels rather than at home.

"We will look into the science and the quarantine period to see how best we can actually be more 'water tight' in these measures," she added.

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Source: AP/dv


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