Thursday, February 20, 2020

Virus: HK declares emergency, schools to be closed till Feb 17

Jan 25. 2020
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By Willa Wu & Li Bingcun
China Daily HK

HONG KONG - Hong Kong raised its response level to the novel coronavirus outbreak to "emergency" and will extend school holidays for non-tertiary students to Feb 17.

Announcing this at a press conference, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor also said the city will cancel its largest marathon to help with disease control efforts. 

The Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon, originally scheduled for Feb 8 and 9, involves 70,000 people and the government “believes it has to be canceled,” Lam said.

Lam said Hong Kong will also indefinitely halt flights and rail services to Wuhan in central China's Hubei province where the novel coronavirus outbreak started.

The government said those who arrive in Hong Kong via the international airport, the three ports and six immigration checkpoints at the city’s border with Shenzhen, will be required to declare their health conditions in special forms. Those who provide fake information will be liable to attract up to six months’ imprisonment and a fine of HK$5,000.

The CE will lead a steering committee to address the threat and said that the government will spare no efforts or resources in preventing a community outbreak of the disease.

The government will set up four task forces, designated for disease prevention and control, internal coordination, public participation and public information, respectively.

Lam said the date for all secondary schools, elementary schools and kindergartens to start a new semester will be pushed back to Feb 17.

Lam urged Hong Kong people not to visit Hubei province. She said she has called on the State Council for help to keep the city's mask stockpile adequate. Pharmacies across Hong Kong have run out of masks aimed at preventing viral infection, prompting authorities to say more will arrive next week. 

 

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