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Hong Kong shutters schools again amid new virus transmissions

Jack Burton

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PHOTO: SCMP

Hong Kong’s education minister says that all schools will close again from Monday after a spike in locally transmitted Covid-19 infections. The move will bring forward the start of the summer holidays, after the city recorded an “exponential growth” of locally transmitted cases in the past few days. The city recorded 38 new confirmed cases yesterday alone, 32 of which were locally transmitted.

The jump marks a major setback for Hong Kong, where daily life was returning to normal, with restaurants and bars resuming normal operations and cultural attractions reopening. Despite sharing a border mainland China, where the outbreak emerged in late 2019, the territory had managed to bring local transmissions near 0 in recent weeks.

New infection clusters started emerging Tuesday, including at an elderly care home that reported at least 32 cases and a housing estate that reported 11. At least 21 new infections in the last 5 days have been classified as “of unknown in origin”, meaning authorities are still unsure how the disease is spreading. A spokeman for the Centre for Health Protection says authorities are facing “difficulties” in tracing the sources and the close contacts of those infected in the new cluster.

All secondary schools, primary schools and kindergartens will close from July 13, although schools will still be allowed to hold important examinations. Hong Kong’s public high schools closed in January during the early stages of the outbreak, and gradually reopened from May as the territory successfully curbed new infections.

Health authorities have already reintroduced limits on how many people can gather in restaurants, bars and fitness centres. A maximum of 8 people can sit together at restaurants while bars, pubs and nightclubs are limited to 4 people per table.

Hong Kong, with a population of around 7.5 million, has reported 1,403 cases of the virus and seven deaths.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post | Bloomberg

 

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

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