Coronavirus outbreak: Hong Kong to quarantine all arrivals from mainland China

Coronavirus outbreak: Hong Kong to quarantine all arrivals from mainland China

File photo of a woman in a mask checking her phone.
File photo of a woman in a mask checking her phone. (Photo: AFP/Philip Fong)

HONG KONG: Anyone arriving in Hong Kong from mainland China from Saturday (Feb 8) will face a mandatory two-week quarantine, the city's leader announced on Wednesday.

Lam said the measures were aimed at curbing the cross-border flow of people to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, which originated from Wuhan in the central Hubei province.

She gave no details about how the quarantine would be implemented but said updates would be released in the coming days.

"The measure is harsh. But I believe after we say all arrivals have to be quarantined for 14 days from Feb 8, the number of arrivals will reduce," Lam said.

"Who would want to enter Hong Kong from the mainland and be quarantined for as long as 14 days? In view of this, we shouldn't have to deal with a large amount of arrivals who need to go through compulsory quarantine."

There have been 21 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Hong Kong, with one death. 

READ: Hong Kong declares Wuhan virus outbreak an 'emergency'

READ: More Chinese cities shut down as novel coronavirus death toll rises

Lam told reporters at a press conference that the Hong Kong government would also allocate HK$10 billion (US$1.29 billion) to fight the spread of the coronavirus, which has sickened more than 20,000 people and killed more than 400. 

Two cruise terminals in Hong Kong will be closed, she added. 

AFP Graphic - Coronavirus: Hong Kong's borders and camps
Graphic on Hong Kong's borders and mainland arrivals in the territories. (Image: AFP / John SAEKI AND Laurence CHU)

Lam said on Monday that Hong Kong would suspend 10 out of 13 border crossings with mainland China. The crossings that remain open are the city's airport, the Hong-Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge and the Shenzhen Bay joint checkpoint. 

Over the last two weeks Lam has faced growing calls to close the border with China.

Some medical staff have been on strike for the past three days, demanding a full border closure.

Lam's administration cut the number of land border crossings to just two, which reduced the flow significantly but failed to placate critics.

Lam had said closing the border would be impractical, economically damaging and discriminatory.

Immigration figures on Tuesday showed about 10,000 mainlanders used the border crossings and the international airport to enter Hong Kong.

Another 33,000 Hong Kong residents were also using the two remaining land border crossings.

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Source: Agencies/zl/nr

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