HK suspends 4 more border crossings to curb spread of virus, Latest World News - The New Paper

HK suspends 4 more border crossings to curb spread of virus

This article is more than 12 months old

HONG KONG: Hong Kong's leader announced the closure of four more border crossings with mainland China yesterday, leaving just three checkpoints open, but stopped short of demands for the entire border to be closed to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.

Hong Kong has 15 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, which emerged in central China in December and has killed more than 360 people and sent jitters through global markets.

Ms Carrie Lam, chief executive of Hong Kong, was speaking hours after more than 2,500 workers from the Hospital Authority Employees Alliance (HAEA) went on strike to call for the border to be shut and better protection for hospital staff, among other demands.

"We should be united if we have the same goal. At this critical moment, (some people are) taking extreme means and it is inevitable it will affect the rights of patients," Ms Lam said.

"Those using extreme means to try to force the government's hand will not succeed."

The Hospital Authority also said those using such means "to try to force the government and Hospital Authority's hands will not succeed".

Striking workers at the Hospital Authority building booed as they watched Ms Lam speak, calling her a liar and chanting: "Close all borders."

The medical workers, members of the newly formed union, held a press conference shortly after Ms Lam spoke and said they planned to keep up their strike action.

HAEA chairman Winnie Yu said she expected around 9,000 of the alliance's roughly 18,000 members to strike today.

Pro-democracy protesters have in recent months formed about 40 unions as a way to press their demands on the government and at least a dozen have come out in support of the HAEA's strike.

Reflecting concerns in the broader business community, three-quarters of American business leaders polled said they wanted Hong Kong to shut the border with the mainland, according to a survey of 156 executives by the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong.

Ms Lam has rejected calls to shut the entire border, saying such a move would be "inappropriate and impractical" as well as "discriminatory".

By making it inconvenient for people to cross the border, Ms Lam said she hoped to contain the spread of the virus, although she does not "rule out future measures as the situation evolves". - AFP