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    Two Classes in Hangzhou Suspended After COVID-19 Flare-Up

    Local authorities said that it was the first time for all those in question to be infected and that it ‘did not indicate a new wave.’

    Barely two weeks after school resumed across China under relaxed COVID-19 protocols, two schools in Hangzhou in the eastern Zhejiang province have reported more than a dozen cases. 

    Local media reported that starting Monday all on-campus activities for one class in each school were suspended for four days.  

    The Hangzhou pandemic control authority told local media that 15 COVID-19 cases were reported altogether in the two classes. Underscoring that it was a regional flare-up, an official said that it was the first time that all those who tested positive had been infected, and that it “did not indicate a new wave.” 

    The suspension will last four days and end Feb. 23. Students will be allowed to resume school after presenting a negative COVID-19 test result from either a PCR or an at-home antigen test. 

    In an announcement Monday, the local education bureau said that all the infected patients were stable and in good spirits. “There’s no need to panic,” read the bureau’s notice.

    The news, reminiscent of school suspensions that have affected millions of students over the past three years, went viral online as many argued whether it’s necessary and fair to suspend school after China eased its pandemic control policy last December.

    “Why is school suspended again? Suspensions should only apply to those who are infected. Children will only be able to attend school a few days per year every time there’s a case,” commented one user on Weibo, China’s microblogging platform.

    Others argued it was common for schools to contain the spread of all major transmittable diseases. “School will be suspended even when more common illnesses such as conjunctivitis, hand, foot and mouth disease, chickenpox, norovirus, and flu are detected,” said another Weibo user.  

    In a break with the rigid pandemic measures implemented since the pandemic began in 2020, schools across China earlier this month scrapped regular coronavirus testing and eased masking requirements ahead of the new semester. Health reports are now only required when students show symptoms.

    China’s COVID cases dropped significantly in February after experiencing a countrywide outbreak in December. The daily number of people who tested positive in PCR tests has decreased from around 7 million in mid-December to roughly 10,000 in February, according to a Feb. 18 Center for Disease Control and Prevention report.    

    “The impact of COVID on people’s lives is still evident,” epidemiologist Zeng Guang told local media, adding that it is still necessary to remain cautious and take basic protective measures. 

    Editor: Apurva.

    (Header image: VCG)