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Wednesday, Aug 17, 2022

Authorities mull rapid tests for students returning to school

Authorities mull rapid tests for students returning to school

Students may have to take rapid Covid tests every day or every other day as face-to-face classes resume after the coming Easter weekend, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said.
In a daily press conference on Sunday, Lam said she will announce in the coming few days details for class resumption and relaxation for social distancing measures after April 21. The government will also return public and transitional housing used as makeshift isolation facilities.

Authorities are considering to require students to undergo rapid tests before returning to school, but they have yet to decide whether the students should do the tests daily or every other day, she said.

She reassured that no student will be turned away by schools even if they are not vaccinated.

There are around some 200,000 kindergarten or primary school students aged 3 to 11 who are not yet vaccinated, accounting for about 30 percent of the age group.

Although there have been suggestions for the government to extend the vaccine pass to schools, Lam questioned the fairness of ordering unvaccinated students to stay home and take online classes while they see their classmates go to school.

Lam said the goal is to allow students to return to normal school life as far as possible, adding the government will not easily suspend classes again.

In addition, Lam said there has been a 30-percent increase in the number of positive rapid antigen test results reported by citizens on Saturday. Seventy percent of them were asymptomatic.

It reflected that citizens have conducted voluntary rapid tests in response to the government's calls to do so from Friday to Sunday, she said.

With the three-day test period set to finish today, Lam said she cannot determine whether a mass mandatory nucleic acids test is needed for the time being.

The government is expected to obtain all the information from voluntary rapid tests by Tuesday. It will make a decision on mass testing considering development of the pandemic, the city's quarantine capacity and impact on the public.

She added that the Easter holiday is coming and she has recently noticed more people visiting the Tamar Park on the way to work. She called upon citizens to maintain social distancing if they need to go out.
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