The emergency approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine raises hopes we might be turning corner in managing the pandemic.
Hong Kong has suspended in-person classes for lower primary school students after the city’s top health official said the coronavirus situation in the city was “severe”.
Classes for primary one to three students will be suspended for two weeks from Monday. The suspension came just more than a week after kindergartens were ordered to close following an outbreak of upper respiratory tract infections.
Hong Kong confirmed 26 new coronavirus infections on Friday, 21 of which were local cases, prompting Health Secretary Sophia Chan to say the self-governing territory has “probably entered” a fourth wave of infections.
Hong Kong health authorities said another 40 people were likely to be infected, awaiting final confirmation.
“I would appeal to people to stop all unnecessary gathering activities because the situation is severe now in Hong Kong,” Chan said.
“In the past week, we have already tightened many of our measures, including border control measures, quarantine measures, hotel regulation measures and also some of the social distancing measures.”
She added there is no way for the restrictions to be “watertight” but urged the people to stop unnecessary gatherings and activities.
The spike in coronavirus cases came as a travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore is due to begin on Sunday.
The arrangement allows a limited number of passengers to fly both ways without having to go through quarantine but must take a COVID-19 test before departure and upon arrival. There would be no restrictions on the purpose of travel.
Travellers would also have to take designated flights, with only Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines having been selected to operate these flights for now.
Currently, the plan remains on track, although it could be suspended according to the agreement between Singapore and Hong Kong if the seven-day moving average for untraceable coronavirus infections exceeds five in either city.
Hong Kong has been spared the dramatic escalation of coronavirus cases seen in other major cities, but the rise was big by its standards, with daily cases having mostly been in the single-digits or low double digits in recent weeks.
Hong Kong has recorded approximately 5,500 coronavirus cases and 108 COVID-19 deaths since the pandemic began.