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Kindergartens, primary schools to shut until CNY, ailing businesses to get aid

11 January 2022

By The SUN 

Students in kindergartens and primary schools will go back to online classes from Friday

Chief Executive Carrie Lam has announced that all childcare centres, kindergartens and primary schools will have to suspend face to face classes from Friday until the Lunar New Year holidays in the wake of the Omicron spread.

Speaking ahead of the weekly Executive Council meeting today, CE Lam reiterated that suspending classes was one of the most difficult decisions to make amid the pandemic because of its adverse effects on the mental and physical health of children.

But she noted that three young children had been infected with Covid-19 recently, two three-year-olds and one four-year-old. Although they caught the virus at home, their teachers and classmates had to be sent to quarantine after being tagged as close contacts.


“They did not get infected in kindergartens or nurseries, they got it from their family members at home. But before it was found out, they went to school. That’s why the kindergartens and nurseries had to be closed temporarily, and teachers and classmates who were their close contacts were sent to quarantine camps,” said Lam.

This is very undesirable, as we don’t want to see such small children being sent into quarantine,” she said.

Another reason she cited was the experts’ belief that there are silent transmissions of Omicron in the community. Some asymptomatic people may pass the virus unknowingly to children, who in turn, could spread it in their schools.


The CE also noted that some schools had outbreaks of upper respiratory tract infections, and since the symptoms are similar to a Covid infection, it's difficult to tell the difference.

Delaying the implementation to Friday will give the affected schools time to prepare, said Lam. But they  should be a able to do so from tomorrow if they can do it.

She also said students in upper classes will continue having face-to-face classes because they are old enough to take care of themselves.


Press for details

The top official also said the scientific committee advising the government on its pandemic policy has agreed to allow children aged between 3 to 17 to receive Sinovac jabs, but later on decided to give priority to those aged 12 years old and above.

When classes resume after the holidays, she said children between five and 11 will be offered Sinovac jabs at schools. This will be carried out by outreach teams at a date that has yet to be determined.

“But the policy is we want to vaccinate children,” she said.

CE Lam says a new round of subsidy for affected businesses will be announced on Friday

On Friday, Lam said details of another round of subsidies for businesses affected by the new Covid-19 outbreak will be announced.

Pindutin para sa detalye

She mentioned restaurants and travel agencies as among those that would benefit from the fourth round of government subsidy for businesses hard-hit by a new round of closures that took effect on Friday.

She said there was still $4 billion left in the fund, and the government could ask the legislature for more if needed.


Various groups welcomed the move, but the legislator representing the catering sector said it would be better to allow the regulated venues to continue to operate, as there has been no mass outbreak from any of them.

Tommy Cheung said allowing restaurants and bars to continue operating at normal hours would be a bigger help than just granting them subsidy.

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