Hong Kong health authorities, acting on the advice of experts, have expanded the scope of a partial evacuation at a Tuen Mun housing estate at the centre of a new coronavirus cluster after two more cases were confirmed there on Saturday. The fresh evacuations came as the city’s education minister Kevin Yeung Yun-hung urged teachers who refused to take regular Covid-19 tests to “consider the interests of students” and submit to screenings so all pupils could return to campus. Hong Kong confirmed five new coronavirus infections on Saturday – including three imported from the Philippines, India and Pakistan – bringing the total tally to 11,568 cases and 207 related deaths. The two local cases were found in Block 3 of Oi Fai House, at Yau Oi Estate in Tuen Mun, where just the day before authorities evacuated some 50 residents believed to be at risk of transmission after two other people were found to be infected there. Hong Kong puts AstraZeneca jabs on hold, orders partial evacuation of building The initial evacuation order had applied to the residents of flat 09 on every floor of the building, while Saturday’s expanded orders were also issued to residents of all flats numbered 10, 31 and 32 as well. About 210 additional people will now be quarantined as a result, on top of the 50 from Friday, according to the Department of Health. The decision was made after the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) took into account expert opinions and the results of an investigation that found shared wastewater pipes between the affected flats, raising fears the virus might be transmitted through the plumbing. Two preliminary-positive cases have also been reported at the housing block, in addition to the four infections already confirmed there. The CHP will investigate whether the infections are related. Despite the outbreak at Yau Oi, the city’s recent drop in overall infections prompted the Education Bureau to relax back-to-school rules for 900,000 pupils, allowing two-thirds of the student body to return to campus for half-day classes after the Easter holiday. Yeung told a radio programme on Saturday that 1,600 educational facilities – including 860 kindergartens and 220 primary and secondary schools – could have all their students resume face-to-face classes after the holiday, as all of their teachers and staff had agreed to be tested for the coronavirus every two weeks. But as some teachers in the remaining 700 primary and secondary schools, and 100 kindergartens were refusing to undergo regular tests, only two-thirds of their students were allowed to return to in-person classes, he noted. Yeung urged the holdouts to reconsider, saying it was the “wrong concept” for some educators to think they should only get tested if students did as well. “Teachers are paid to offer educational services with resources provided by society. They have a responsibility to take care of students. [Getting Covid-19 tests] is just like requiring teachers – but not students – to be tested for tuberculosis. We require more from our teachers than students,” he said. “I hope teachers will consider the interests of students. It’s not difficult at all to get tested and take a jab.” Still, Yeung insisted that individual teachers’ choices would be respected, and that authorities had no plan to make testing and vaccinations compulsory for teachers. Education authorities last month did offer incentives in the hope of getting teachers to take advantage of the city’s immunisation drive, saying those who had been fully vaccinated would no longer need regular testing after 14 days had passed. But a survey conducted last month by the Professional Teachers’ Union found that a majority of local school heads hoped to bring all students back to campus without requiring staff to undergo testing, as employees were “stressed” over the rule. As of Saturday, 559,800 people, or 7.4 per cent of Hong Kong’s 7.5 million population, received their first dose of a vaccine. Of those, 231,500, or 3 per cent of the population, had also taken their second jab. Experts previously said it would take vaccination coverage of about 70 per cent to achieve herd immunity for Hong Kong.