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3 Feb, 2020 11:33

Hong Kong shuts down more border crossings with mainland China amid coronavirus fear, medics strike

Hong Kong shuts down more border crossings with mainland China amid coronavirus fear, medics strike

The government of Hong Kong has further restricted travel from mainland China amid public fears about the coronavirus epidemic. City leader Carrie Lam denies caving in to pressure from medics, who started a strike on Monday.

Hong Kong health workers started a five-day strike on Monday, demanding a full closure of the border to prevent infected people from reaching the city. Lam stopped short of meeting their demands in full, and denies that the measures she announced on Monday were due to the pressure.

“If anyone thinks that by resorting to such extreme measures the government will be made to do something that is not rational or something that will only harm the public they will not get anywhere,” she said.

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The chief executive ordered shutdown of two more land crossing points and a ferry connection to Macau, starting midnight. But the Hong Kong international airport, the Shenzhen Bay border and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge will still be available for travelers from other parts of China. The shutdown is meant to “reduce people movement across the border,” she said.

Hong Kong, which was already in disarray following months of anti-Beijing protests when the coronavirus outbreak started at the end of last year, suffers from much public discontent with the city’s response to the epidemic. Some protesters took pretty drastic measures and firebombed a building that the authorities wanted to use to house medics treating patients. During her media briefing, Lam called on people not to oppose the government’s effort to tackle the virus.

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The medics’ protest was supported by some 2,400 non-essential health workers, who refused to work on Monday. The 18,000-strong union behind the strike threatened that more than 6,000 essential personnel will join the campaign on Tuesday, unless their demand of full border closure is met.

There are 15 confirmed coronavirus cases in Hong Kong, with no deaths reported so far.

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