Coronavirus: Student groups call on government to address Covid-19 concerns

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The five new demands include banning travellers from mainland China, indefinite class suspension and monitoring the price of surgical masks

Joanne Ma |
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Student groups set up a booth in Tseung Kwan O to push forward their five demands, including the indefinite suspension of classes.

Student groups set up a booth in Tseung Kwan O on Monday to push their very own five demands, including the indefinite suspension of classes.

Students Connect and Hong Kong Students, which formed during the anti-government protests last year, set up a booth near Tseung Kwan O MTR Exit A calling on the authorities to meet these demands: ban all travellers from the mainland; suspend classes indefinitely; use Hong Kong Central Hospital, which stopped running in 2012, as a quarantine centre; stop low-quality or even fake surgical masks from entering the market; and monitor the prices of masks at local pharmacies.

At the booth, eight members of the two student groups asked passers-by to sign a petition to support their demands. As of 4pm on Monday, they had collected about 100 signatures. 

A timeline of the coronavirus outbreak

They also collected donations of surgical masks and hand sanitiser from the public. These items will be distributed to students who had already filled in a Google form created by Students Connect, where they stated their needs. The group also gave out leaflets explaining why they set up the organisations, so people could learn more about them.

“We’re out here because we’re still angry with the government,” said Students Connect vice-president, Yom Chong. “The medical strike was halted because many medical staff knew there would be a much larger coronavirus outbreak in the city. They returned to their posts because they care about Hongkongers. Yet, our government regarded them as ‘evil members of the herd’,” the 17-year-old said.

He also called for the indefinite suspension of classes and the HKDSE exams. “The government should take full responsibility for the current situation. If they had listened to the people and closed the borders earlier, HKDSE candidates wouldn’t have had to go through the disruptions they facing right now,” Yom said. He told Young Post a handful of students had said that their schools had not finished teaching the HKDSE syllabus, so delaying the exams was necessary.

How students are staying sane during the class suspension

The government should negotiate with local and international universities regarding admission deadlines for Hong Kong students, instead of going ahead with the HKDSE, even though schools are still closed, he said.

On February 25, the Education Bureau announced that classes would be suspended until April 20 amid the coronavirus outbreak. Yet, the first HKDSE exam will still take place on March 27 as scheduled.

Exams for Chinese speaking, music, and physical education, however, were pushed back to May, and the exam results will be announced a week later than usual, on July 15.

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