Published on : Tuesday, January 28, 2020
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said that the high-speed rail service between the city and mainland China would be suspended from Thursday, and all cross-border ferry services would also be suspended in a bid to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Mrs Lam told in a press briefing the number of flights to mainland China would also be halved and personal travel permits for mainland Chinese to the city would be suspended. Eight people in Hong Kong are known to be suffering from the illness. Of those, six arrived via a newly built high-speed train line that connects the city to the Chinese mainland.
The officials previously announced that people travelling to the semi-autonomous city from Hubei province in central China – the epicentre of the outbreak – as well as any who have visited the virus-hit area in the last two weeks are to be denied entry into Hong Kong from Monday.
But calls were growing from some politicians and medical experts for a complete shutdown of the mainland border to those not from Hong Kong.
The pro-democracy lawmaker Helena Wong said that the epidemic has spread too many Chinese provinces. Only blocking visitors from Hubei can’t do much to help Hong Kong. The authorities also said it was closing a range of public facilities from sports centres to campsites in a bid to curb the spread of the SARS-like virus that has left more than 100 dead across China.
All recreational facilities will be temporarily shut from Wednesday to “avoid people gathering”, authorities said. Hong Kong has declared the novel coronavirus a public “emergency” and on Saturday ramped up measures to reduce the risk of more infections.
The officials have also announced that all schools will extend their Chinese New Year holiday to mid-February and civil servants have been told to work from home.
China said on Tuesday that 106 people had died from the coronavirus that is believed to have originated in the central city of Wuhan and is spreading across the country. The previous death toll, on Monday, was 81.
The number of confirmed cases increased from 2,835 on Monday to 4,515 on Tuesday, according to the National Health Commission. The youngest confirmed case is a 9-month-old girl in Beijing.
Most of the cases have been confirmed in the central Chinese province of Hubei, the epicenter of the outbreak, where several cities, including Wuhan, have been placed under what amounts to a lockdown. Of the total cases, 2,714 are in Hubei.