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Source: Hong Kong Information Services

(To watch the full media session with sign language interpretation, click here.)

The Government today announced that in view of the outbreaks of upper respiratory tract infection, all kindergartens and child care centres would start suspension of face-to-face classes, school activities and services for two weeks from November 14 until 27.

Speaking to the media this afternoon, Secretary for Food & Health Prof Sophia Chan noted that the Department of Health recorded 171 upper respiratory tract infection outbreaks as of 9.30am, of which 101 involved kindergartens or child care centres.

She said the outbreaks are not linked to COVID-19, but described the situation as worrying.

“From all the tests, we have not found any COVID-19 cases. However, as you all know, young children who attend kindergartens and also child care centres are very (young), first of all.

“Secondly, in spite of all the measures that we have put in place in the schools, including personal hygiene, mask wearing, etc, we still notice these outbreak reports.

“We think it is very worrying and therefore we have made a decision to suspend face-to-face classes or services in kindergartens and also child care centres citywide.”

Prof Chan added the Government would monitor the situation during the two-week suspension. 

“If the situation gets worse or the local situation does not get better, we would not rule out the possibility of extending the suspension.”

The Education Bureau will issue letters to schools to explain the measures and arrangements that schools should put in place during the face-to-face class suspension.

It said schools can use other modes to enable children to continue learning at home and help them maintain their curiosity and motivation for learning, adding in principle, e-learning in the form of real-time online teaching is not suitable for kindergartens.

The bureau added that schools should remain open and arrange for staff to be on duty to handle school affairs and parents’ enquiries, and to look after students who may arrive at school. They should also ensure that their environment is clean and hygienic.

Meanwhile, the Social Welfare Department said child care centres and special child care centres will remain open during the service suspension to serve parents who have difficulty in taking care of their children.

Service users in need may contact the centres or service units concerned in advance. Call 2343 2255 for enquiries.

MIL OSI Asia Pacific News