World • 28 January, 2020

Coronavirus: Hong Kong to slash border travel as virus spreads

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Hong Kong has announced plans to slash cross-border travel between the city and mainland China as the new coronavirus continues to spread, BBC reports.

Photo: REUTERS

More than 100 people have now died in China, with confirmed infections surging to more than 4,500.

High-speed trains and ferries that cross the border will be suspended from Thursday, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam announced. She wore a face mask.

The virus has spread across China and to at least 16 countries globally.

Several foreign governments with large numbers of citizens in Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, are considering evacuations. Japan is sending a plane later on Tuesday.

Wuhan, as well as the wider Hubei province, are already effectively in a lockdown with strict transport restrictions in and out of the area. Wearing masks in public is now mandatory in some Chinese cities.

On Monday, authorities in Beijing confirmed that a 50-year-old man had died - the first fatality in the Chinese capital from the virus.

Hours later, Ms Lam announced Hong Kong's new strategy to tackle the virus. In addition to suspending train and ferry services, flights to mainland China will be halved. People will also no longer be able to receive permits to visit Hong Kong from the mainland.

The city of seven million - a major financial centre - is part of China but retains significant autonomy.

Tens of millions of people visit from mainland China every year but numbers were down in 2019 because of the pro-democracy protests that rocked the city.

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