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Wednesday, Jun 23, 2021

School resumption risky, says expert

School resumption risky, says expert

A health expert said it is still risky to allow students to attend face-to-face lessons even teachers were tested once every two weeks.
The Education Bureau earlier announced that primary and secondary schools, as well as kindergartens and private tutorial schools, could resume their classes in full two weeks after teachers and staff return negative Covid-19 test results.

Schools that comply with the rule will need to seek approval before resuming classes. Other schools will be allowed to resume half-day classes with the number of schoolchildren capped at one-third of the student population.

Ho Pak-leung, the head of the University of Hong Kong's Centre for Infection, said the testing can only figure out if teachers were infected the moment they have their samples collected.

“Along with the Covid tests, teachers should isolate themselves if they live in buildings with confirmed cases or have been to places connected to the infections, minimizing the risk of having any outbreaks at school,” said Ho.

The microbiologist added that from the 10,000 cases in Hong Kong, only some 40 of them were teachers, with few cases found from schools, indicating school suspension is indeed the right way to prevent transmissions.

However, he pointed out that a school-wide weekly Covid test will not be feasible as there were over hundreds of thousands of students in Hong Kong.

His view was echoed by infectious diseases expert Joseph Tsang Kay-yan, who said the coronavirus’s incubation period can be up to 14 days, while its transmission period will be around seven days after its onset.

“If teachers who were infected waited for nearly two weeks for the test, the virus may have already been widely spread among students, where the situation may get out of hand by then,” stressed Tsang.
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