THE CENTRAL HOSPITAL OF WUHAN VIA WEIBO /via REUTERS
More than 3,000 doctors, nurses, and other hospital workers in Hong Kong voted in favor of striking unless the city closes its border with mainland China, the South China Morning Post reported.
Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam has said she wouldn’t close the border over fears of fueling discrimination.
Other countries around the world, like the US, Japan, and Australia have imposed restrictions on entry from China.
More than 3,000 hospital workers in Hong Kong have voted in favor of a strike that could begin as early as Monday in a move to pressure the Hong Kong government to close its borders with mainland China amid the ongoing Wuhan coronavirus outbreak.
According to a report Saturday from The South China Morning Post, 3,123 voted in favor of the strike. Just 10 people voted against the measure, while 23 others abstained, the South China Morning Post reported.
The workers are members of the Hospital Authority Employees Alliance, formed in December and consisting of 18,000 doctors, nurses, and other hospital employees, per the SCMP. Members representing the organization told the SCMP that the low turnout was due to members who were working or not in the city to vote.
More than 9,000 medical workers have signed a petition, pledging to join the potential strike, the SCMP reported. Non-essential hospital workers were expected to strike on Monday, with the rest of the workers beginning to strike throughout the rest of next week, the Hong Kong news outlet said.
The Hong Kong Hospital Authority said it was closely monitoring the strike. There are around 77,000 total workers at the public hospitals, including 6,500 doctors and 27,000 nurses, the SCMP said.
As Reuters reported, Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, has resisted calls to close Hong Kong’s borders with China, citing guidance from the World Health Organization.
“I am afraid (closing the border) contradicts the WHO suggestion … which asks governments not to take any measures that may fuel discrimination,” Lam said at a news conference.
The threatened strike comes as nations around the world move to impose new travel restrictions with China in order to limit the spread of the coronavirus, which has killed at least 259 and infected around 12,000 others. While the virus has gone global, the majority of its effects have been felt in mainland China.
The Trump administration announced January 31 that the US would bar the entry of any foreigner who had visited China within the past two weeks, with the exception of permanent residents and the immediate family members of US citizens.
US citizens who have visited the Hubei province in China, where the virus originated, within the past 14 days will have to spend at least two weeks in quarantine upon returning to the United States.
Japan announced Saturday that they would bar the entry of foreign nationals that had visited Hubei within the past two weeks, while Australia placed an outright ban on foreigners who had recently traveled to China, The New York Times reported.
As Business Insider reported, the coronavirus has spread to every part of China, with at least 10 cases in Hong Kong.
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