Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam on Saturday declared a virus emergency in the Asian financial hub, announcing a package of measures to limit the city’s links with mainland China, APA reports citing Reuters.
Schools, now on Lunar New Year holidays, would remain shut until Feb. 17, while inbound and outbound flights and high speed rail trips between Hong Kong and Wuhan would be halted.
Lam said all official visits to the mainland and official Lunar New Year celebrations would be scrapped immediately.
She also said she had sought the assistance from China’s State Council to ensure on-going mask supplies were adequate.
They may also ask universities to extend holidays too.
Lam’s statements came hours after she returned from the World Economic Forum in Davos and amid broader tensions as her team grapples with at times violent anti-government protests that have rumbled on for seven months.
“I hereby urge all citizens stay united to fight against the epidemic to protect all Hong Kong people’s health and safety,” Lam said.
She added that it would be impractical to shut down all border crossings with the mainland.
Some protesters have railed against growing interference from Beijing seeking to curb the city’s freedoms while others have expressed fear over greater integration with the mainland.
The city’s health authorities have confirmed 5 coronavirus cases, all linked to Wuhan, where the virus first appeared, with a further 122 people being treated as suspected of having the disease.
The first case was confirmed on Wednesday, a 39-year-old man visiting from Wuhan who crossed by high-speed rail from neighboring Shenzhen.
The condition of one of the people confirmed with the virus deteriorated on Saturday and the patient was now on a respirator, Hong Kong’s government funded broadcaster RTHK reported.