Hong Kong Healthcare Union Strikes to Protest Government Refusal to Close All Ports of Entry Amid Coronavirus Concerns

February 03: Hong Kong ’s newly formed medical workers’ union, the “HA Hospital Staff Front” launched a strike on Monday, February 3, to protest the government ’s refusal to close all border control ports.

The union, which has 18,000 members, said 2,400 members had joined the strike on Monday.

The new coronavirus that originally broke out in Wuhan has killed more than 360 people and confirmed more than 17,000 cases. The number of confirmed patients in Hong Kong increased to 15 on Monday.

The Hospital Front staff on Friday called on the government to complete a customs clearance to ban all mainland visitors from entering through all border control points.

The HA staff front warned that they would stage a five-day strike in stages and would affect non-emergency services. 

Apart from a complete closure of all borders, the alliance’s other demands included that the government make clear policies to ensure a supply of surgical masks; a halt on non-emergency services and an increase in the number of isolation wards at hospitals; better support for medical practitioners; and an open promise not to punish those who participate in the strike.

“(We) hope that these strikes will allow the government to respond to our five major appeals, and most importantly stop the spread of coronavirus in Hong Kong,” a member of the strike told Reuters.

On the other hand, the Chief Executive, Mrs Carrie Lam, announced on Monday that four more ports would be closed from Tuesday. Of the 13 ports, 10 have now been suspended. However, Lin Zhengyue also stressed that the new measures are in line with the government’s consistent policy and have nothing to do with the strikes of some staff of the Hospital Authority. She warned that anyone believes that extreme measures to intimidate the SAR government will not succeed.

Lin Zhengyue said that a complete closure is not feasible in Hong Kong and it is discriminatory.

Reuters quoted Hong Kong official data as saying that 90% of Hong Kong’s food is imported, most of which comes from mainland China.

A 45-year-old shop owner told Reuters that people are now snapping up all kinds of items. He said: “This situation will be more serious if the customs are closed, especially food, people are already snapping up oil, salt, rice, etc., let alone masks.”

Source: VOA Chinese & South China Morning Post

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