Hong Kong Kindergartners Poised to Return to Online Classes

Hong Kong ordered the city’s kindergartens and child-care centers to stop in-person classes for two weeks after an apparent outbreak of the common cold, though none of the cases tested positive for Covid-19.

The stoppage, resulting from the recent jump in upper respiratory tract infections, will begin Nov. 14, Health Secretary Sophia Chan said at a briefing in Hong Kong on Thursday. She wouldn’t rule out an extension of the suspension if the situation deteriorates.

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 pandemic, upcoming winter flu season, pressure on the public healthcare system and the personal hygiene habits of young kids, she said.

There have been 171 outbreaks of upper respiratory tract infection affecting more than 1,900 people, with 101 of the outbreaks linked to kindergartens and child-care centers, she said.

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.

The Center for Health Protection issued an alert on Nov. 5 urging the public to remain vigilant. Children are more vulnerable to respiratory illnesses as their immune system has had less exposure to viruses, Dr. Ho Pak-leung, a clinical associate professor at the University of Hong Kong, told RTHK. Symptoms are akin to the common cold, the flu, and Covid-19.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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