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Hong Kong university entrance exams begin with virus steps

HONG KONG – Hong Kong students began taking university entrance examinations Friday with masks, temperature checks and social-distancing measures in place after a one-month delay.

More than 52,000 students are expected to sit for the city’s Diploma of Secondary Education examinations, which are used for university admissions.

All examination candidates and testing personnel were required to wear surgical masks and sanitize their hands. Students underwent temperature checks and had to sign health declaration forms before entering the testing venues, where desks were spaced at least a meter (yard) apart.

The exams will take place until May 25. They were to start in March 27 but were postponed as virus infections rose in Hong Kong.

Global examinations such as the International Baccalaureate exam originally slated in May, as well as Cambridge’s International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) exams in the U.K., have been cancelled.

As of Thursday, Hong Kong has had 1,036 coronavirus infections with four reported deaths.

After coronavirus cases surged in China in January, Hong Kong took several measures to limit the outbreak in the semi-autonomous territory. The city's schools have been closed since Jan. 25.

Infections surged in March as overseas residents returned to Hong Kong while the pandemic was spreading in Europe and the United States. But the city's cases have dwindled this month, with 12 consecutive days of single-digit infections.

However, social-distancing measures are still in place until at least May 7. Public gatherings of more than four people are banned, and certain businesses, like beauty salons, bars and karaoke venues remain closed. Restaurants are allowed to operate at half their usual capacity with tables spaced apart.