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03 Feb 2020 | 01:51 AM UTC

Hong Kong: Public health workers begin coronavirus-related strike February 3 /update 3

Public hospital workers begin strike action on February 3, to demand border closure with mainland China; further spread of the coronavirus likely over the near term

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HKG

Event

At least 1000 public hospital workers are striking in Hong Kong in protest to the administration's refusal to close the border with mainland China to prevent further spread of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) that originated in Wuhan (Hubei province). Medical unions have said that non-essential staff will participate in the first day of the strike action, with each day afterwards to escalate in impact. 

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced on Tuesday, January 28, that high-speed rail services and ferries from Hong Kong to mainland China will be suspended until further notice in an effort to limit the spread of 2019-nCoV outbreak. The administration has closed six of its 15 border checkpoints with mainland China as of Monday.

Hong Kong has 15 confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV as of February 3. Further spread of the virus is to be expected over the near term.

Context

Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced the implementation of the maximum health warning level in Hong Kong on January 25 after the city reported five confirmed coronavirus (2019-nCoV) cases.

The first case of 2019-nCoV was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in more than 25 countries and territories worldwide. Human-to-human transmission has been confirmed in Germany, Japan, the US, and Vietnam. Virus screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On January 30, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the ongoing novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak is a "public health emergency of international concern."

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.

Advice

Potentially impacted individuals are advised to monitor the situation, confirm travel itineraries and consider rebooking options, if needed, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments. Individuals are advised to take precautionary measures to reduce their risk of contracting the virus:

• Avoid all contact with animals (dead or alive); avoid eating animal products that are undercooked; avoid all markets where animals are sold

• Avoid all close contact with people displaying symptoms of the disease (e.g. difficulties breathing)

• Frequently wash hands, wear a face mask

• Individuals within China developing symptoms of pneumonia are advised to seek medical attention, avoid contact with other people, and wash hands regularly

• Adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments

• Travelers returning from China developing symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to avoid spreading the disease