Schools were reopened in late May but social restrictions are tightened after surge in new coronavirus infections
Hong Kong is closing its schools again, as a surge in coronavirus cases within the community after a long stretch without infections forces the financial hub to reinstate restrictions that had been loosened.
All schools will break for summer holiday starting on Monday, Hong Kong secretary for education Kevin Yeung said in a briefing on Friday. The Hong Kong Economic Times reported earlier that the city would shut the schools.
The benchmark Hang Seng index extended declines as trading resumed after the lunch break, falling as much as 2.3%. The Hang Seng China Enterprises gauge slipped as much as 2.7%, its biggest intraday drop since May 22.
The city reported 34 locally transmitted cases on Thursday, the most in a single day since the pandemic began. The resurgence in Hong Kong, while small relative to outbreaks in the US and elsewhere, comes after weeks of normalised activity as people returned to work and restaurants filled up again. Hong Kong started reopening schools in late May after four months of at-home classes.
The new infections have pushed Hong Kong to tighten social restrictions again, with the government announcing on Thursday it will cap restaurant capacity at 60% starting this weekend. There will be a limit of eight people per table, while bars will be restricted to four per table.
Hong Kong has suppressed two waves of infection in February and April and its total outbreak numbers only 1,365 cases. But this week’s jump in infections is raising alarm, as cases that cannot be traced suggest that hidden chains of transmission have been circulating in the city for some time.
Other cities in the region that have seen previous success in containing the virus are also experiencing new waves of infections. Flare-ups in Melbourne, Beijing and Tokyo — which reported a record day of new cases on Thursday — are a reminder that the pandemic is far from over. Without an effective and widely distributed vaccine, cities are likely to continue in a state of limbo where the easing of social distancing measures or lax implementation will lead to a spike in infections.