Face-to-face classes should be suspended now: expert

Infectious disease expert Leung Chi-chiu said on Friday the government should suspend face-to-face classes immediately to prevent the coronavirus from spreading further.

Leung said on an RTHK programme that it is worrying that a Covid cluster involving a flight attendant and her mother has spread the virus further in the community in just a week, and everyone should stay home as much as possible to help contain the virus.

He also said schools are highly prone to an Omicron outbreak, and the government should act quickly.

“I think this is a major loophole. If we are determined to control the transmission, why are we so hesitant in stopping the school classes? And also for some of these [schools], they are running full-day classes, and many of the students have to eat lunch within the school or outside. That greatly increased the cross-transmission risks,” he said.

“I think we need to take urgent action for our schools both to protect our kids and also our community.”

Leung also said there may be a substantial risk of Covid transmission from the banquet on Monday evening attended by around 100 people, including officials and lawmakers, where a preliminary positive case has been reported.

He said it’s still unclear whether more people would be infected.

“The gathering occurred indoors and we do not know the ventilation or other arrangement there. But the size of the gathering is rather substantial, over 100. There is of course a substantial risk there,” Leung said.

“But up to this moment, we do not have any information of the likely infectiousness of the involved preliminary positive case. And we need to know her CT number and the day she was first tested positive.”

Leung said the incident showed people’s lack of awareness about a possible Omicron outbreak in Hong Kong .

“That is not desirable, because we already had signals of an Omicron outbreak before the New Year and the event occurred a few days afterwards. That indicates that our society may not have sensed the crisis. That is perhaps the most worrying part at this moment,” he said.