Hong Kong shuts schools as new virus cases increase

Hong Kong says it is suspending classes for students following a rise in coronavirus cases

Officials in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory reported 42 new cases on Thursday, 34 of them locally transmitted. Most of the new cases were related to known clusters, including an elderly home and several restaurants.

Hong Kong has reported 1,365 cases with seven deaths since the pandemic began.

The increase in new cases prompted the government to tighten social-distancing measures. Kindergarten, primary and secondary schools will be closed until further notice, according to the education department.

The region's Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung told reporters his department was trying to “balance the safety of the students as well as the educational needs of the students." Some schools would be allowed to proceed with exams while enforcing mask wearing, hand washing and maintenance of social distancing, Yeung said.

Beyond schools, from Saturday, restaurants will only be allowed to operate at 60% of their seating capacity, with a maximum of eight people per table, while bars and nightclubs can only have up to four people per table.

Fitness centers and karaoke bars will be limited to eight patrons at any given time.