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Wuhan coronavirus: Hong Kong medical workers agree to strike over mainland border closures

Wuhan coronavirus: Hong Kong medical workers agree to strike over mainland border closures

People queue to buy face masks from a shop in Hong Kong on Feb 1, 2020. (Photo: AFP/Philip Fong)

HONG KONG: Thousands of Hong Kong medical workers voted Saturday (Feb 1) to strike as they urge the government to close its border with the mainland to contain the Wuhan coronavirus epidemic that has killed 259 people.

The financial hub has 13 confirmed cases of the disease as of Saturday, with 112 patients isolated.

More than three thousand public hospital staff including doctors and nurses voted to strike if the government fails to meet their demands

"If we do not curb the source (of the virus), the resources of epidemic prevention and manpower will never be enough," said Winnie Yu, chairwoman of the Hospital Authority Employees Alliance (HAEA).

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"We don't want to go on strike, but the government has been ignoring the demands of the frontline medical workers. We have no choice," Yu added.

The HAEA will meet with representatives from their employer - the city's hospital authority - on Sunday to negotiate.

The newly formed alliance said 9,000 of its members back the strike, making up 10 per cent of the workforce of the city's workforce.

If no deal is reached, around 30 per cent of the 9,000 - those who work in non-essential positions - would first go on strike next Monday. The rest, who provide emergency services, would afterwards join a four-day strike.

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Hong Kong's hospital authority on Saturday said it would come up with a contingency plan.

The city's pro-Beijing administration has resisted public pressure to completely close its border although it has slashed several lesser-used crossings, with the city's chief executive saying on Friday a full closure is not feasible.

The United States has temporarily barred entry to foreigners who had been in China within the past two weeks and Australia said it was barring entry to non-citizens arriving from China.

Italy, Singapore and Mongolia have also taken similar precautions.

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Source: AFP/zl


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