Coronavirus fears boil over on the streets of Hong Kong

Coronavirus fears boil over on the streets of Hong Kong

January 26, 2020

Hong Kong: Hong Kong authorities on Sunday barred residents of China's Hubei province from entering the city in response to mounting pressure to enact preventative measures to contain the spreading epidemic.

The ban includes those who have been in the province in the past 14 days but excludes Hong Kong citizens. Wuhan, the city where the virus originated, is in Hubei.

Local residents set a building on the Fai Ming Estate in the Fanling district of Hong Kong on fire on Sunday after the government had earmarked it for use as a quarantine centre.Credit:AP

As fears about the virus outbreak intensify, calls have grown for Hong Kong's government to close the financial hub's border with mainland China to minimise the risk of infection.

Earlier on Sunday, hundreds of Hong Kong citizens had blocked roads leading to the building with bricks and other debris, to protest plans to convert the building into a quarantine zone as the number of confirmed cases in the city climbed to six.

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam at a news conference on Saturday.Credit:Bloomberg

"We are dissatisfied with the government selecting this housing estate as a [quarantine] separation village as it's very close to a residential area and a primary school," said a 28-year-old resident surnamed Tsang.

Hong Kong authorities had said they would convert "Fai Ming Estate, an unoccupied public estate in Fanling, into temporary flats for quarantine and observation of close contact persons without symptoms if needed."

Following the protest, the government said it would "cease the related preparation work in Fai Ming Estate."

Hong Kong has been engulfed by demonstrations over the last seven months centred on Hong Kong's relationship with mainland China. with protesters railing against what they see as growing interference from Beijing. Beijing denies meddling and blames the West for stirring trouble in the former British colony.

Hong Kong authorities have so far refused to categorically block the flow of visitors from mainland China across several land border crossings. Direct train and flight connections to and from Wuhan have been suspended.

Health authorities in the afternoon said 107 people were under quarantine, and there were 77 suspected cases.

The ability of the new coronavirus to spread is strengthening and infections could continue to rise, China's National Health Commission said on Sunday.


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