Hong Kong extends school suspension until April 20 to control spread of virus

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Hong Kong has further extended the suspension of schools until at least April 20 to contain the spread of the coronavirus, authorities in the Asian financial hub said on Tuesday as cases of the disease surged outside China.

The city’s Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung said classes would be suspended until after the Easter holiday with April 20 being the earliest date to return. Students had previously been due to return to lessons on March 16.

“As the coronavirus has not shown any sign of dying down, the Education Bureau has decided that all schools in Hong Kong will further extend the suspension,” Yeung said, adding that the exact date of resumption would be evaluated later.

The news comes as the disease has now killed almost 2,700 people in China and spread to more countries around the globe including Italy, Iran and South Korea.

Many schools in Hong Kong have already switched to online learning and lessons by conference call, with assignments given out on a daily or weekly basis.

Secondary students will continue to take most of their exams as per schedule from March 27, Yeung said, with some subjects including music and physical education postponed until May.

The Chinese territory has 81 confirmed cases of the virus and reported 2 deaths so far.

Reporting by Donny Kwok, Twinnie Siu and Jessie Pang; Writing by Farah Master; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Muralikumar Anantharaman