Hong Kong restricts travel from mainland China

HONG KONG: Hong Kong on Tuesday announced drastic measures to cut the number of people crossing into the city from mainland China in a bid to curb the spread of a SARS-like virus that has already killed more than 100 people.

With tour groups from the mainland already suspended, the new measures blocking individual travellers will dramatically reduce the number of Chinese able to visit the semi-autonomous city.

The number of flights from the mainland to Hong Kong will be halved and all ferry services suspended to “reduce the mobility of people from both sides”, city leader Carrie Lam said, adding six of 14 border checkpoints will close from January 30 “until further notice”.

The financial hub has declared the new coronavirus a public emergency and on Saturday ramped up measures to reduce the risk of more infections.

Eight people in Hong Kong are known to be suffering from the illness. Of those, six arrived via the high-speed train line that connects the city to the Chinese mainland.

Lam said that with the “approval of the central government”, mainland China will suspend issuing permits for individual visitors in 49 Chinese cities. The announcement came after growing calls from some politicians and medical experts for a complete shutdown of the mainland border to those not from Hong Kong.


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