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Hong Kong resists China border closure over coronavirus threat as city reports first death

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Hong Kong resists China border closure over coronavirus threat as city reports first death

By The Washington Post · Shibani Mahtani · WORLD, HEALTH

HONG KONG – Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Monday further restricted the territory’s border crossings with mainland China to curb the coronavirus outbreak but stopped short of a blanket closure demanded by hospital workers who will now execute a five-day strike.

The strike – organized by a pro-democracy union formed after months of political unrest – represents a conundrum for Lam. Beijing’s handpicked leader, who must weigh the intensifying public health crisis and widespread disaffection toward her government against her obligations to, and instructions from, the Chinese Communist Party.

On Tuesday, Hong Kong reported its first death from the coronavirus outbreak. The 39-year-old man had been in stable condition late last week, according to the Center for Health Protection, but deteriorated quickly in recent days. He had traveled to Wuhan on Jan. 21, returned to Hong Kong two days later and was admitted to the hospital last Friday.

Hong Kong, which has its own immigration system but is under China’s sovereignty, has reported 15 cases of the novel coronavirus infection. More than 17,000 cases and 360 deaths have been confirmed in mainland China, prompting many nations – the United States, Singapore and Italy to name a few – to impose sweeping and unprecedented travel restrictions on Chinese nationals and foreign travelers who have passed through the country.

China’s neighbors such as North Korea and Mongolia have sealed their borders in an effort to halt the spread of the virus, which has reached more […]

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