Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Capital News
French teachers and their pupils aged 11 and older were obliged to wear face coverings, echoing regulations in place across the continent


Millions back at school in Europe as Hong Kong starts mass tests

French teachers and their pupils aged 11 and older were obliged to wear face coverings, echoing regulations in place across the continent © AFP / Martin BUREAU

Paris, France, Sep 1 – Millions of mask-wearing European children headed back to school on Tuesday after summer holidays despite rising numbers of coronavirus infections, as Hong Kong rolled out a mass coronavirus testing programme.

Schools reopened in Russia, Ukraine, Belgium and France, where teachers and their pupils aged 11 and older were obliged to wear face coverings, echoing regulations in place across the continent.

Russia’s 17 million school children returned to class as the country confirmed it had passed one million infections — still well behind the tally in the United States, now higher than six million.

Map comparing daily coronavirus testing rates in different countries. © AFP / John SAEKI

The US is hosting the world’s first major tennis tournament since the virus hit but it has not been plain sailing at the US Open, where one player was sent home after testing positive and other players are grappling with eerie empty arenas.

“It’s a little bit weird to play without fans and without the support and the atmosphere on the centre courts,” said former champion Angelique Kerber.

The virus emerged late last year in China and has now infected more than 25 million people and killed almost 850,000.

The Chinese city at the centre of the initial outbreak, Wuhan, took another leap back to normality on Tuesday when its almost 1.4 million youngsters also returned to schools and kindergartens.

State media broadcast images of thousands of students hoisting the Chinese flag — a daily routine at all public schools — despite warnings to avoid mass gatherings.

– ‘Hellish’ confinement –

European countries have faced an upsurge in cases in recent weeks after successfully suppressing the numbers, a similar story to Hong Kong where three-quarters of cases have been detected within the past two months.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

People wait at a COVID-19 coronavirus testing centre in Hong Kong © AFP / ISAAC LAWRENCE

However, Hong Kong’s attempts to roll out a mass testing scheme have been hampered by distrust of officials following China’s crushing of the city’s democracy movement.

Doctors and testing firms from mainland China are involved in the programme, fuelling public fears that their DNA and data will be harvested to create a system of control underpinned by biometrics.

“I think it’s a waste of time,” local resident Emily Li told AFP. “The government can’t convince me in terms of the effectiveness of the testing programme.”

Distrust of officials continues to fuel protests across the world against social-distancing measures, mask-wearing and other regulations.

Several European governments have promised not to try to enforce more lockdowns of the severity seen earlier this year when businesses were forced to close and millions of people were confined to their homes.

India faces one of the most acute outbreaks in the world © AFP / Dibyangshu SARKAR

“I am convinced that we can and will prevent a second general shutdown,” Germany’s Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said on Tuesday as he unveiled figures suggesting his country has passed the worst of its recession.

The lockdowns helped to flatline large parts of the global economy and led to widespread resentment.

“The confinement period was hellish,” said Florence, a 42-year-old mother-of-three in the French Riviera city of Nice.

Students attend the 100th anniversary of the founding of Wuhan High School on the first day of the new semester in Wuhan in China’s central Hubei province © AFP / STR

“We will not go through it again, it’s out of the question.”

However, hopes that a vaccine will be developed soon were dealt a blow on Tuesday when French company Sanofi said it was cancelling research on its candidate drug — one of several to have made it to the final stage of testing.

The drug “did not give us the results we were hoping for”, said the firm’s research chief John Reed.

– ‘Bubble within a bubble’ –

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

The return to normality has been slow, not only for the economy but also for wider society.

Tennis players faced the prospect of playing in huge arenas with no fans at the US Open © GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP / MATTHEW STOCKMAN

Tennis players have described the situation at the US Open as a “bubble within a bubble”.

French player Benoit Paire fumed after being sent home from the New York tournament, writing on social media: “I hesitate to tell what is really going on in this Fake Bubble.”

The US organisers later said in a statement a player had flouted safety regulations, without naming Paire.

And footballers also were having a rude awakening in Latin America.

Ecuadorian football authorities fined a top-flight player $1,200 for kissing the ball — a breach of hygiene rules brought in to combat the virus.


Play to listen to Capital FM News

More on Capital News


NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 28 – US President Joe Biden on Tuesday appointed Dr John Nkengasong, a virologist and director of the Africa Centers for...


Manila, Philippines, Sep 28 – The Philippines has approved Covid-19 jabs for children as young as 12, an aide to President Rodrigo Duterte said...


NAIROBI, Kenya Sep 28 – The Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) has attributed the hike of fuel prices in the country to increased...

Capital Health

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 28 – Deputy President William Ruto has appealed to Members of Parliament to support the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) Bill...

County News

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 28 – Former Speaker and Gender Administrative Secretary Beatrice Elachi has denied claims of abuse of office during her tenure as...


NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 28 – Children from disadvantaged communities are at far greater risk from waterborne diseases, hunger, and malnutrition according to a new...


NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 28 – Defence Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma has presented her candidature for the position of the Commonwealth Secretary General as Kenya positions...


NAIROBI, Kenya Sep 28 – Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji has asked the Senate to shoot down a petition by a citizen...