Hong Kong News

Nonpartisan, Noncommercial, unconstrained.
Sunday, Feb 25, 2024

Health experts urge Hong Kong to axe daily Covid testing for schools from January 31

Health experts urge Hong Kong to axe daily Covid testing for schools from January 31

Respiratory medicine expert Dr Leung Chi-chiu says daily rapid testing at schools can be axed by next month’s end as city will have sufficient herd immunity levels.

Health experts in Hong Kong have called for authorities to lift a daily Covid-19 rapid test requirement for school students at the end of January, arguing the government’s decision to scrap most anti-epidemic curbs would render the measure ineffective.

Parents, students and school principals have expressed divided opinions on the subject after the Education Bureau on Wednesday announced the screening requirement would be subject to a review after January 31.

Respiratory medicine expert Dr Leung Chi-chiu on Thursday said the government could axe the policy by the end of next month as Hong Kong would have reached a sufficient level of herd immunity by that point.

“The reason why we cannot cancel [rapid antigen tests] right now is that we have not allowed the virus to further spread widely in the community,” he said.

“When we relax everything, in one or two months, the herd immunity will become more uniform and cover the previously unexposed segment of the population. When it is achieved, the RAT and half-day classes will not be necessary.”

Under the current rules, school students of all ages must obtain a negative RAT result each day before coming to campus.

The daily tests would be ineffective in preventing infections as students were likely to be exposed to the virus outside campuses as the city lifted most of its anti-epidemic curbs, Leung said.

The respiratory medicine expert urged parents to inoculate their children against Covid-19 as soon as possible to protect them from severe or fatal symptoms amid the prospective rise in cases.

The decision to review the testing rule is part of a wider rollback of the city’s coronavirus restrictions that took effect on Thursday, including the axing of the government’s vaccine pass, testing rules for inbound travellers and all social-distancing rules.


Respiratory medicine expert Dr Leung Chi-chiu.

The city’s mask mandate, which requires everyone to wear facial coverings in most public places, is still in effect.

As part of the wider policy change, all secondary schools from February 1 will resume full-day, in-person classes regardless of their respective inoculation rate, with primary schools and kindergartens to follow suit from February 15.

Dr Siddharth Sridhar, a virologist at the University of Hong Kong (HKU), also said it did “not make sense” to keep testing for Covid-19 when mainland Chinese authorities planned to reclassify it as a simple respiratory infection.

Professor Ivan Hung Fan-ngai, a government pandemic adviser, said that while daily tests could be scrapped for primary and secondary school students, they should remain in place at kindergartens as the vaccination rate for young children remained low.

According to government figures, around 78 per cent of children aged between three and 11 have received at least two vaccine doses, while 30 per cent were triple jabbed.

Meanwhile, Cheung Yung-pong, honorary chairman of the Aided Primary School Heads Association, argued a sufficient measure would be for any students showing Covid-19 symptoms to stay home.

“While people were beginning to get used to it, daily testing was still undeniably a burden for parents and schools. When the overall policy points to loosening up, the government should review the RAT requirement at the end of January,” Cheung said.

Some parents have expressed frustration regarding the daily testing requirement, arguing it had done little to mitigate the risk of infection for their children.

Ma Yuk-ping, a mother to an 11-year-old boy in Primary Six, said the resumption of on-campus lunches would cancel out any reassurances that came from the daily tests.

“Once they have lunch at school, the virus would spread among them. Kids won’t take precautions,” the 52-year-old homemaker said.

Elson Tan, 17, who studies at the Hong Kong Adventist Academy and has been taking full-day classes since November, said the tests should be cancelled.

“Over half of high school students have been triple-vaccinated and Covid-19 is not as severe a threat as it was in 2020,” he said.

But some parents, headmasters and students did not want testing to stop.

Parent Ronnie Cheung said the daily tests were both a hassle and the last line of protection for her three-year-old son in his first year of kindergarten.

“The school’s spot checks would mandate the RAT, but if the whole thing is lifted, then those children who are positive without symptoms can go to school too, then I feel my son will be unprotected,” Cheung said.

Nancy Lam Chui-ling, principal of Tsuen Wan Trade Association Chu Cheong Kindergarten, said RATs and the mask mandate were the “last frontier” to ensure students’ safety on campus.

“[The RAT] is the quickest way to detect infection while there is no other way to do so. I hope the requirement will stay until at least Easter, depending on the situation once the border reopens,” Lam said.

Anson Ng, an 11-year-old student from Holy Angels Canossian School, said she felt “a bit unsafe” if the RAT requirement was dropped.

“I am a bit worried about getting Covid-19 or other health concerns during lunch breaks because the classrooms are not spacious enough to keep a safe distance among students,” she said.

The Education Bureau had also said the vaccine pass scheme would also be dropped from December 29, meaning all school staff or other personnel can enter campuses without showing their vaccination status. All students can also conduct after-school activities.

Currently, primary schools with more than 70 per cent of students, who have been double-vaccinated for more than 14 days, are allowed to resume full-day in-person classes. Secondary schools are also allowed to do so if they have more than 90 per cent of such students. Such criteria will be axed in February.
Newsletter

Related Articles

Hong Kong News
0:00
0:00
Close
It's always the people with the dirty hands pointing their fingers
Paper straws found to contain long-lasting and potentially toxic chemicals - study
FTX's Bankman-Fried headed for jail after judge revokes bail
Blackrock gets half a trillion dollar deal to rebuild Ukraine
Steve Jobs' Son Launches Venture Capital Firm With $200 Million For Cancer Treatments
Google reshuffles Assistant unit, lays off some staffers, to 'supercharge' products with A.I.
End of Viagra? FDA approved a gel against erectile dysfunction
UK sanctions Russians judges over dual British national Kara-Murza's trial
US restricts visa-free travel for Hungarian passport holders because of security concerns
America's First New Nuclear Reactor in Nearly Seven Years Begins Operations
Southeast Asia moves closer to economic unity with new regional payments system
Political leader from South Africa, Julius Malema, led violent racist chants at a massive rally on Saturday
Today Hunter Biden’s best friend and business associate, Devon Archer, testified that Joe Biden met in Georgetown with Russian Moscow Mayor's Wife Yelena Baturina who later paid Hunter Biden $3.5 million in so called “consulting fees”
'I am not your servant': IndiGo crew member, passenger get into row over airline meal
Singapore Carries Out First Execution of a Woman in Two Decades Amid Capital Punishment Debate
Spanish Citizenship Granted to Iranian chess player who removed hijab
US Senate Republican Mitch McConnell freezes up, leaves press conference
Speaker McCarthy says the United States House of Representatives is getting ready to impeach Joe Biden.
San Francisco car crash
This camera man is a genius
3D ad in front of Burj Khalifa
Next level gaming
BMW driver…
Google testing journalism AI. We are doing it already 2 years, and without Google biased propoganda and manipulated censorship
Unlike illegal imigrants coming by boats - US Citizens Will Need Visa To Travel To Europe in 2024
Musk announces Twitter name and logo change to X.com
The politician and the journalist lost control and started fighting on live broadcast.
The future of sports
Unveiling the Black Hole: The Mysterious Fate of EU's Aid to Ukraine
Farewell to a Music Titan: Tony Bennett, Renowned Jazz and Pop Vocalist, Passes Away at 96
Alarming Behavior Among Florida's Sharks Raises Concerns Over Possible Cocaine Exposure
Transgender Exclusion in Miss Italy Stirs Controversy Amidst Changing Global Beauty Pageant Landscape
Joe Biden admitted, in his own words, that he delivered what he promised in exchange for the $10 million bribe he received from the Ukraine Oil Company.
TikTok Takes On Spotify And Apple, Launches Own Music Service
Global Trend: Using Anti-Fake News Laws as Censorship Tools - A Deep Dive into Tunisia's Scenario
Arresting Putin During South African Visit Would Equate to War Declaration, Asserts President Ramaphosa
Hacktivist Collective Anonymous Launches 'Project Disclosure' to Unearth Information on UFOs and ETIs
Typo sends millions of US military emails to Russian ally Mali
Server Arrested For Theft After Refusing To Pay A Table's $100 Restaurant Bill When They Dined & Dashed
The Changing Face of Europe: How Mass Migration is Reshaping the Political Landscape
China Urges EU to Clarify Strategic Partnership Amid Trade Tensions
The Last Pour: Anchor Brewing, America's Pioneer Craft Brewer, Closes After 127 Years
Democracy not: EU's Digital Commissioner Considers Shutting Down Social Media Platforms Amid Social Unrest
Sarah Silverman and Renowned Authors Lodge Copyright Infringement Case Against OpenAI and Meta
Why Do Tech Executives Support Kennedy Jr.?
The New York Times Announces Closure of its Sports Section in Favor of The Athletic
BBC Anchor Huw Edwards Hospitalized Amid Child Sex Abuse Allegations, Family Confirms
Florida Attorney General requests Meta CEO's testimony on company's platforms' alleged facilitation of illicit activities
The Distorted Mirror of actual approval ratings: Examining the True Threat to Democracy Beyond the Persona of Putin
40,000 child slaves in Congo are forced to work in cobalt mines so we can drive electric cars.
×