Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has announced the additional closure of four border crossing points with China, bringing the total number of closed crossings to 10.
The four crossings, to be shut down at midnight today, are Lo Wu, Lok Ma Chau, Huanggang, and the Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Terminal.
The remaining three open crossings are Hong Kong International Airport, Shenzhen Bay, and Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge.
Lam said the additional closures had nothing to with a five-day strike by local health workers beginning on Feb. 3, who are demanding that the city government implement a full border closure with China.
In a reference to the strike, Lam added that “extreme measures” taken by anyone in an effort to force the city government into doing something “not rational” will not get anywhere.
Local union Hospital Authority (HA) Employees Alliance, organizer of the strike, held a press conference after Lam’s announcement.
Winnie Yu, the alliance’s chairwoman, said that over 2,500 members of the alliance supported the strike. She added that the strike successfully put pressure on the city government to announce the additional crossing closure.
In response to Lam’s accusation of “extremism,” Yu said that people in Hong Kong have the right to assemble and protest.
Yu added that the city government was insincere in response to their demands. She expressed hope that Hospital Authority, a statutory body managing Hong Kong’s public hospital services, will put pressure on Lam’s government so that the city will be completely sealed off.
Aside from demanding a full border closure, the alliance has four other demands, including that the city government must provide enough isolation wards.
The alliance has previously announced that it will escalate the scale of the strike on Feb. 4, by having more members taking part, including those in the hospital’s emergency units.
In response to Lam’s remarks, pro-democracy lawmaker Lo Kin-hei wrote on Twitter that the Hong Kong government has been consistently, “NOT listening to public views, DELAYING measures, implementing HALFWAY measures, IRRITATE everyone every time they speak,” during the past eight months.
Joshua Wong, activist and the iconic figure from the 2014 Umbrella Movement, tweeted on Feb. 2 asking people to support the strike.
“This is the only last-ditch leverage medical professionals have before our healthcare system collapses. The government is clearly incapable of protecting Hong Kongers as they put politics before our wellbeing,” Wong wrote.
Currently, Hong Kong has 15 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus. Local outlet RTHK reported on Monday that 2 of 15 patients were in serious condition, with one in critical condition.
So far, the only death from the virus reported outside of China is in the Philippines. The victim was a Chinese national from Wuhan and not a local.