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Outbreak shuts two parks in HK

Hong Kong’s Disneyland announced it was shutting its doors on Sunday until further notice over the deadly virus outbreak in central China, a day after city authorities classified the crisis as an emergency.

READ: Virus epicenter shut-off

Outbreak shuts two parks in HK
DEADLY OUTBREAK. A sign announcing on January 26 the temporary closure of Hongkong Disneyland until further notice because of the outbreak. AFP
The park said it was taking the step to protect the health and safety of its guests and cast members and said refunds would be given.

Ocean Park, a rival amusement park on Hong Kong’s main island, said it was also closing its doors.

On Saturday, Hong Kong classified the outbreak as an “emergency”–the city’s highest warning tier--and announced ramped-up measures to reduce the risk of further infections.

READ: Virus quarantine vast as toll rises

The move came as city leader Carrie Lam faced criticism in some quarters over her administration’s response to the crisis.

Calls have been made by opposition politicians and some medical experts to halt, or limit, arrivals from the Chinese mainland where the epidemic began.

Of the five people who have tested positive for the virus in Hong Kong so far, four arrived via a newly built high-speed train terminal that connects with the mainland.

On Sunday, a newly formed union that represents health care workers threatened industrial action from Feb. 3 if the government does not ban all arrivals from the Chinese mainland.

The Hospital Authority Employees Association, which is still in the process of registering as a union, said it had received 3,700 applications from members to join.

The Hospital Authority employs around 76,000 people.

Lam has resisted closing the border, saying the crisis is not yet at a point where such a drastic measure is needed.

But she has announced all mainland arrivals must now sign health declaration forms.

A series of public events, including a Lunar New Year gala and next month’s marathon have also been cancelled.

On Sunday, the nearby gambling hub of Macau announced three more cases of the novel coronavirus, bringing its total to five.

All three new cases were women who came from the central Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the epidemic. One of the women had arrived in Macau via Hong Kong, authorities said.

The closure of Disneyland and Ocean Park will pile fresh misery on Hong Kong’s tourism, leisure and retail industries which have already been battered by more than seven months of often-violent pro-democracy protests.

Ocean Park is on track to receive a HK$10.6 billion (US$1.3 billion) government bailout over grim ticket sales in recent years.

Combined with the US-China trade war fallout, the protests have helped tip Hong Kong into recession and the virus outbreak has only compounded the city’s economic woes. Shanghai’s Disneyland also closed from Saturday in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Hong Kong has firsthand experience of deadly viral outbreaks.

Nearly 300 people were killed in the city by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003, a tragedy that left a profound psychological impact on one of the most densely populated places on earth. 

READ: China isolates 13 cities

READ: Major SARS-like outbreak feared amid third death outside of China

READ: Public warned: No cure for n-CoV; only hygiene

READ: From bats to humans? Analysis shows possible sources of virus

Topics: Hong Kong’s Disneyland , deadly virus outbreak , Ocean Park , Hospital Authority Employees Association

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