Hong Kong Disneyland says closing over Wuhan virus fears

Hong Kong Disneyland says closing over Wuhan virus fears

Hong Kong Disneyland Resort
A general view of Toy Story Land at Hong Kong's Disneyland on November 17, 2011. The attraction is the first stage of the resort's expansion. (Photo: AFP / AARON TAM)

HONG KONG: Hong Kong's Disneyland announced it was shutting its doors on Sunday (Jan 26) until further notice over the deadly virus outbreak in central China, a day after city authorities classified the crisis as an emergency.

The park said it was taking the step to protect "the health and safety of our guests and cast members", mirroring a similar move by Shanghai's Disneyland.

Ocean Park, a rival amusement park on Hong Kong's main island, said it was also closing its doors.

Business is going on as usual at the hotels inside Hong Kong Disneyland, however, state media CCTV reported.

MORE: Our coverage on the Wuhan virus and its developments

On Saturday, Hong Kong classified the outbreak as an "emergency" - the city's highest warning tier - and announced ramped-up measures to reduce the risk of further infections.

The move came as city leader Carrie Lam faced criticism in some quarters over her administration's response to the crisis.

Calls have been made by politicians and some medical experts to halt, or limit, arrivals from the Chinese mainland where the epidemic began.

Of the six people to have tested positive for the virus, five arrived via a newly built high-speed train terminal which connects with the mainland.

On Sunday, a newly formed union which represents healthcare workers threatened industrial action from Feb 3 if the government does not ban all arrivals from mainland China.

And in the district of Fanling, local residents held a protest against plans to earmark an empty public housing block as a temporary quarantine for patients and frontline medical staff who don't want to return to their families.

On Sunday, the nearby gambling hub of Macau announced three more cases of the novel coronavirus, bringing its total to five.

All three new cases were women who came from the central Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak. One of the women had arrived in Macau via Hong Kong, authorities said.

CHINA TOURIST ATTRACTIONS CLOSED

The Shanghai government said on Friday that Shanghai Disneyland will be closed from Saturday.

Several other tourist attractions, including part of the Great Wall of China and Beijing’s Forbidden City, have also been closed as authorities attempt to curb the spread of the virus.

READ: Beijing to close section of Great Wall, other tourist sites

READ: Shanghai Disneyland closes over Wuhan virus concerns

Two popular temple fairs in Beijing, which attracted massive crowds of tourists in previous years, were also called off by the city government.

The women’s Olympics football qualifiers, scheduled for Feb 3-9 in Wuhan, has been moved to Nanjing as well.

China is on a seven-day Chinese New Year holiday that started on Friday, a period when the amusement parks would be usually packed with tourists.

The country has confirmed 1,975 cases of patients infected with the new coronavirus, while the death toll from the virus has risen to 56.

The virus originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in Hubei late last year and has spread to Chinese cities including Beijing and Shanghai, as well as to the United States, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Australia, France and Canada. 

The closure of Disneyland and Ocean Park will pile fresh misery on Hong Kong's tourism, leisure and retail sectors which have already been battered by more than seven months of often-violent protests.

Ocean Park is on track to receive a HK$10.6 billion (US$1.3 billion) government bailout over grim ticket sales in recent years.

Combined with the US-China trade war fallout, the protests have helped tip Hong Kong into recession and the virus outbreak has only compounded the city's economic woes. Lam's approval ratings are languishing at record lows after the protests but Beijing has doggedly stuck by her.

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Source: Agencies/ga/nc

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