Hong Kong economy shrinks in 2019 amid protests, trade war

Henrietta Brewer
February 4, 2020

Thousands of Hong Kong hospital workers turned out in force to support a strike called by local union Hospital Authority (HA) Employees Alliance on February 3.

Formed in December previous year, the alliance has about 18,000 members, including nurses, doctors, and other hospital workers.

It brings the number of border entry points into Hong Kong that have now been completely closed to 10.

The sign-up was scheduled to end at noon, and hospital workers planned to take to the streets at several locations in the afternoon.

The decision comes after the Hong Kong government faced public pressure - including a medical professionals strike - to restrict border access from mainland China.

According to Hong Kong media, Lai Ching-lung, a professor in gastroenterology at the University of Hong Kong's Department of Medicine, voiced his support for the strike outside of Queen Mary Hospital.

The Hospital Authority Employees Alliance (HAEA), which has about 18,000 members, said 2,400 workers took part in the strike, despite calls by the government for medical workers not to.

Hong Kong on Monday severed almost all of its land and sea connections with mainland China as part of growing measures in Asia to slow the spread of coronavirus.

According to an global agency, Winnie Yu, chairwoman of the 9,000 member Hospital Authority Employees Alliance, told reporters that if authorities do not permit "full border closure", it would result in a decrease in manpower, protective equipment, or isolation to tackle the coronavirus outbreak. The union said to the frontline workers - including doctors and nurses - would continue on Tuesday if their demands were not met.

Hong Kong's leader announced the closure of four more border crossings with mainland China on Monday, leaving just three checkpoints open, but stopped short of demands for the entire border to be closed to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.

The only border crossings to the city to remain open will be the Shenzhen Bay joint checkpoint, Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge and the city's worldwide airport, with the Macau ferry connection to the airport to remain in operation.

On Jan. 30, the WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak a public health emergency of worldwide concern.

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