Hong Kong closing schools again

Pedestrians and schoolchildren wearing protective masks walk along a sidewalk in Hong Kong, China, on Friday, July 10, 2020. Hong Kong is closing its schools again, as a surge in coronavirus cases within the community after a long stretch without infections forces the financial hub to reinstate restrictions that had been loosened. Photographer: Roy Liu/Bloomberg

Hong Kong will close all schools again after a spike in locally transmitted coronavirus infections, the city’s education minister said on Friday.

Schools will close from Monday, bringing forward the start of the summer holidays, Kevin Yeung said, after the city recorded an “exponential growth” of locally transmitted cases in the past few days.

The city recorded 38 new confirmed cases on Friday, 32 of which were locally transmitted. The spike marks a setback for Hong Kong, where daily life was returning to normal with restaurants and bars resuming normal operations and cultural attractions reopening.

Despite being right next to mainland China where the outbreak emerged in late 2019, the territory had largely managed to subdue local transmissions in recent months.

But new infection clusters started to emerge since Tuesday, including at an elderly care home that reported at least 32 cases and a housing estate that reported 11 cases.

At least 21 new infections in the last five days have been classified as unknown in origin, meaning authorities are struggling to work out how the disease is spreading.

Authorities were facing “difficulties” in tracing the sources and the close contacts of those infected in the new cluster, said Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan of the Centre for Health Protection.

Health authorities on Thursday also reintroduced limits on how many people can gather in restaurants, bars and fitness centres.

A maximum of eight people can sit together at restaurants while bars, pubs and nightclubs are capped at four people per table.

Hong Kong has reported 1,403 cases of the virus and seven deaths since the outbreak.

Source: Bangkok Post