Hong Kong hospitals cut services as medical workers were striking for a second day Tuesday to demand the border with mainland China be shut completely to ward off a virus that caused its first death in the semi-autonomous territory.
All but two of Hong Kong’s land and sea crossings with the mainland were closed at midnight after more than 2,000 hospital workers went on strike Monday. As many as 9,000 medical workers could join the bigger walkout Tuesday to demand closure of the border across which tens of thousands of people continue to travel daily.
Hong Kong’s Hospital Authority said it was cutting back services because “a large number of staff members are absent from duty” and “emergency services in public hospitals have been affected.”
Hong Kong was hit hard by SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, in 2002-03, an illness from the same virus family as the current outbreak. Trust in Chinese authorities has plummeted following months of anti-government protests in the Asian financial hub.