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Numerous hospital workers in Hong Kong have gone on strike today, demanding the government to close its border with China to minimise the risk of coronavirus spreading.

The city already suspended rail and ferry services to and from China, but health staff is demanding a complete border closure.

The city’s authorities have said that closing the border would go against advice from the World Health Organization (WHO), which declared the coronavirus outbreak a global health emergency.

Hospital Authority Employees Alliance chairwoman Winnie Yu said: “If there is no full border closure, there won’t be enough manpower, protective equipment, or isolation rooms, to combat the outbreak.”

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The five-day strike now involves ‘non-essential’ staff, but the union said that front-line workers, including doctors and nurses, will join on Tuesday if their demands were not met.

On 02 February, commenting on plans of a strike, a government spokesman said: “The government understands that healthcare workers have been facing extreme pressure recently and some of them are worried that cross-boundary transmission of the virus would overload the public healthcare system.

“The government is examining the infection continuously and will explore further tightening of the management of control points.”

A total of 15 confirmed cases of the coronavirus have been reported in the city.