Hong Kong union calls strike to demand China border closure

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A union for Hong Kong hospital workers said its members will go on strike Monday to press a demand for the semi-autonomous Chinese territory to reject all travelers from the mainland in an effort to stem the spread of a new viral disease.

The Hospital Authority Employees Alliance, one of several groups that represent hospital employees, said Saturday more than 9,000 of its members signed a pledge to join the five-day strike.

The announcement followed decisions by the United States, Japan, Australia and other governments to block or limit entry to travelers who have been to China in the past two weeks, which scientists say is the virus’s maximum incubation period.

A union statement demanded Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s government “forbid all travelers from entering Hong Kong via China,” stop non-emergency medical services and ensure hospital workers have enough masks and other supplies.

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The government has suspended rail connections with the mainland but Lam has argued against blocking all travel.

Hong Kong’s health care resources “will soon be completely depleted, as an endless stream of non-Hong Kong residents continues to come into the city, seeking for medical care,” a union statement said.

The union “refuses to believe that any of the so-called disease prevention and control measures implemented could be truly effective when there is not a complete restriction of suspected cases entering Hong Kong via mainland China,” it said.

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