HK declares Wuhan virus out­break an ‘emer­gency’

Muscat Daily - - WORLD -

Hong Kong, China - Hong Kong on Satur­day de­clared a new coro­n­avirus out­break as an ‘emer­gency’ - the city’s high­est warn­ing tier - as au­thor­i­ties ramped up mea­sures to re­duce the risk of fur­ther in­fec­tions.

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

Of the five peo­ple who have tested pos­i­tive for the virus in Hong Kong so far, four ar­rived via a newly built high-speed train ter­mi­nal which con­nects with the main­land.

That led to calls from some med­i­cal ex­perts and politi­cians to limit, or even halt, ar­rivals from China.

Lam held emer­gency meet­ings with health of­fi­cials on Satur­day morn­ing after re­turn­ing from Davos.

“To­day I de­clare the lift­ing of the re­sponse level to emer­gency,” she said.

Schools and uni­ver­si­ties, which are cur­rently on a Lu­nar New Year break, would re­main closed un­til 17 Fe­bru­ary, Lam said.

All main­land ar­rivals to Hong Kong will now need to sign health dec­la­ra­tion forms, she added, while public events in­clud­ing a new year gala and next month’s marathon, would also be called off.

“We haven’t seen se­ri­ous and wide­spread in­fec­tions (in Hong Kong), but we are tak­ing this se­ri­ously and we hope to be ahead of the epi­demic,” Lam said.

Ho Pak Le­ung, a mi­cro­bi­ol­o­gist at the Univer­sity of Hong Kong, said clos­ing the main­land bor­der would be the ‘ sin­gle most ef­fec­tive mea­sure’ in con­tain­ing the virus.


Peo­ple wear­ing masks travel on a train on the first day of the Lu­nar New Year of the Rat in Hong Kong on Satur­day

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