Medical professionals to begin strike tomorrow after last minute negotiations fail to materializeLocal | 2 Feb 2020 4:51 pm
Thousands of Hong Kong medical professionals will begin a five-day strike Monday after the government refused their demand to shut all entry points from China amid a deadly virus outbreak on the mainland.
The Hospital Authority Employees Alliance said there were about 99 percent of “Yes” votes cast by its members on Saturday. More than 9,000 members have pledged to take part, first in suspending non-emergency services offered by the city’s Hospital Authority before extending it to providing only limited emergency needs, it said.
Hong Kong authorities have resisted pressure from some groups to shut all its borders with China, where the deadly outbreak has killed more than 300 people and infected more than 14,000 others.
Hong Kong has at least 14 confirmed cases of the new strain of coronavirus. The government has extended school holidays and suspended residents of China’s Hubei province, where the outbreak is centered, from entering the city.
Measures already announced by the government “are doomed to fail when the government is adamant in refusing to address the crux of the problem,” the union said in a statement after the vote.
“As country after country begins to announce the banning of foreigners’ entry from China, the Hong Kong government chooses to keep its doors wide open. Hints of Tightening Hours after Hong Kong medical workers vote, the government appeared to open the door for more controls on travel from the mainland.
“The government is examining the infection continuously and will explore further tightening of the management of control points,” a spokesman said.
The government appealed to workers “to reconsider their decision” and keep providing service, praising them for “standing fast at their posts.”
The Hospital Authority had a workforce of about 79,000 as of March 2019. The union, established late last year, said the decision to strike “is not an easy one.” The group canceled planned negotiations with the Hospital Authority on Sunday because Chief Executive Lam wasn’t attending, RTHK reported. It said Lam’s refusal to attend means talks had already broken down, according to the report.