January 11, 2022
HONG KONG – The Hong Kong government said kindergarten and primary schools must suspend classes before Friday as it expands the vaccination program to include those aged 5 to 11 in light of the rising COVID-19 cases in children.
Speaking to the press on Tuesday, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor cited the existence of silent transmission chains in the community, adding that suspending schools was a hard decision to make.
Face-to-face classes at kindergarten and primary schools have to be suspended until after the Lunar New Year period at the start of February, she said.
Face-to-face classes at kindergarten and primary schools have to be suspended until after the Lunar New Year period at the start of February, CE Carrie Lam said
Secondary schools, meanwhile, can continue to conduct face-to-face classes under existing anti-epidemic measures.
Three young children aged three and four were recently confirmed infected. Their classmates and teachers, considered as close contacts, have been sent to quarantine centers.
“It was not ideal to see young students having to be isolated at quarantine centers,” she added.
Lam noted that following health experts’ recommendations, the government will administer Sinovac vaccines for children aged from 5 to 11. Given that schools will close from Jan 14 for children of this age group, the vaccination program will roll out after school resumes in February.
The chief executive also announced a new round of the anti-epidemic fund to subsidize businesses affected, including eateries where dine-in services were banned after 6 pm and travel agencies that have been hit hard since the beginning of the pandemic. More details of the fund will be released on Friday.
Citing the recent rise in vaccination rate, Lam said she remains optimistic and confident about overcoming this round of outbreak.
As of Monday evening, 74.7 percent of eligible Hong Kong residents have received their first COVID-19 jab.
The city’s rising vaccination rate was bolstered by the government’s planned vaccine bubble to be effective on Feb 24. Under the plan, only vaccinated people would be allowed to enter certain premises including eateries, cinemas, schools and public libraries.
In a bid to further boost the vaccination rate among the elderly, Lam announced that 2,000 doses of vaccine will be provided for the elders on a daily basis at 15 Elderly Health Centres operated by the Department of Health.
By now, around 900,000 seniors aged over 60 have not been vaccinated, Lam said.