More than 20 Hong Kong students went to a Covid-19 quarantine facility to sit their first university entrance exam in a special assessment centre, the Education Bureau has said.

The Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (DSE) examinations started on Friday, with around 46,700 candidates taking the English Language reading and writing papers, according to the education authorities. The critical exams were clouded with months of uncertainty amid the city’s fifth and deadliest wave of Covid-19 since the pandemic began in early 2020.

A Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education examination centre. Photo: Lea Mok/HKFP.

A total of 21 candidates sat Friday’s examination at the community isolation facility in Penny’s Bay, where a special assessment venue was set up. Among them, 10 tested positive for Covid-19 and 11 had to undergo mandatory quarantine. One also decided not to take the test after feeling unwell.

The Education Bureau said that three of the candidates contacted the authorities on Thursday night to arrange transportation to take them to the special exam centre on Friday morning.

A Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education examination centre. Photo: Lea Mok/HKFP.

Separately, 19 candidates who lived in buildings under compulsory lockdown were given priority testing on Thursday night, the bureau said. They were able to attend the examination on Friday morning after receiving a negative result.

Citing the Hong Kong Examination and Assessment Authority, the government said most candidates were able to complete a rapid antigen test, record their body temperature and fill out a health declaration form prior to arriving at the exam venue.

“The first day of the examination operated smoothly in general,” a government spokesperson said.

A Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education examination centre. Photo: Lea Mok/HKFP.

Friday’s English tests were held in 466 schools, with 467 exam centres set up in a school hall, and 214 set up in a classroom. The authorities also prepared 515 testing venues for candidates with special needs.

Around 50,000 candidates registered for this year’s HKDSE exam, which is set to last until May 14. The three-week examination period is shorter than in previous years.

On Friday, Hong Kong recorded 574 new Covid-19 infections and 15 deaths. So far, the city’s caseload has reached over 1.2 million and more than 9,200 related deaths.

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Kelly Ho

Kelly Ho has an interest in local politics, education and sports. She formerly worked at South China Morning Post Young Post, where she specialised in reporting on issues related to Hong Kong youth. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration.