HONG KONG – Due to an increase in coronavirus infections in some schools in the Chinese-ruled territory, Hong Kong will cease face-to-face teaching in secondary schools beginning Monday until after the Lunar New Year, officials said.

Early this month, the government suspended lessons in primary schools and kindergartens and imposed restrictions such as a prohibition on restaurant eating after 6 p.m. and the closure of places such as gyms, theatres, and beauty salons.

The administration announced on Thursday that schools will be closed until February 7, after the Lunar New Year Holidays. While sixth-year students may have some face-to-face courses to prepare for examinations, all other levels must cancel or postpone tests and events.

“The pandemic situation has worsened in recent days,” stated the city’s education administration in a statement. “There have been a large number of confirmed cases of unknown origin.”

The tough restrictions restore the Asian financial hub to the state it was in when the first such actions were taken in 2020.

Despite its increasingly disruptive and inconvenient consequences at a time when the rest of the globe is leaning toward living with the virus, Hong Kong has followed mainland China’s path of zero-tolerance of local Covid-19 infections.

Following the initial local transmission at the end of December, the neighbourhood has seen dozens of instances of the fast-spreading Omicron variety this year.

There have also been transmissions of the Delta type, which had not been seen in many months, according to health officials. Growing clusters, including one from a pet store, have been identified as a high danger by officials.

Cases of proven or preliminarily confirmed diseases in schools necessitated testing and quarantining of instructors and kids, according to the education bureau.

Hong Kong had no local transmissions for more than three months till the end of December.

In an effort to increase the city’s vaccination rate, which is now about 70%, the administration has announced that youngsters aged five to eleven would be able to get vaccinations from China’s Sinovac beginning Friday.

Thousands of individuals offered this week to adopt abandoned hamsters following a huge cull ordered due to Covid-19 worries.

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