HK declares Wuhan virus outbreak an ‘emergency’
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