In this undated file photo, kindergarten students wear masks in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, China. (PARKER ZHENG / CHINA DAILY)
HONG KONG – The Hong Kong government announced on Thursday the suspension of face-to-face classes at all kindergartens and child care centers as around 60 percent of the recent outbreaks of upper respiratory tract infections (URTI) involved such institutions.
Speaking to the media on Thursday afternoon, Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee said the Department of Health has recorded 171 outbreaks of URTI involving some 1,900 people as of 9:30 am. Of the 171 outbreaks, 101 involved kindergartens or child care centers, she said.
Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee said the Center for Health Protection was investigating 171 outbreaks of URTI involving some 1,900 patients
Face-to-face classes at all kindergartens and child care centers will be suspended for 14 days from Nov 14 until Nov 27, Chan said. The government will review the situation to decide if an extension of the suspension is needed.
Chan described the situation as “worrying” as the outbreaks occurred despite the implementation of a series of anti-COVID-19 measures, including the mandatory of masks at public venues, as well as enhanced anti-infections measures adopted at schools.
Though none of the students or staff in the related facilities tested positive for the coronavirus, the decision was made in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, upcoming winter flu season, pressure on the public healthcare system and the personal hygiene habits of young kids, she said.
Students who develop upper respiratory tract infection symptoms should not go to school and should seek medical attention as soon as possible, Chan said. She also called on parents to cut down on extra-curricular activities for their children.
Kindergartens and nurseries opened their doors to students almost two months after the city had largely contained the spread of COVID-19. In total, children in the Asian financial center have spent over six months learning from home this year.
With inputs from Bloomberg
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