Medical workers in Hong Kong boycott their jobs on February 3 and demanded authorities to close the city's border with coronavirus-hit China in order to contain the spread. While hundreds left their jobs, the frontline staff has also threatened to file a lawsuit in the upcoming days. At least 15 cases have been confirmed in Hong Kong of the novel virus as the death toll in China increased to 361 with 17, 205 confirmed cases.
The recent action by non-essential medical officials comes as Hong Kong's pro-Beijing leader resists sealing its border with China completely. According to the city authorities, ceasing borders would not only mean going against the orders of the World Health Organisation but it would also be discriminatory as well as economically damaging. However, some Hong Kong borders with China have been closed with arrivals reduced to nearly half.
Despite the precautionary moves by the authorities, the anger has mounted on people who reportedly maintain a historical mistrust with China after the 2003-SARS outbreak which the mainland government tried to cover up and the virus killed at least 300 Hong Kongers. Several thousand members of the newly formed medical union voted on February 1 to strike against the government with the first batch of 'non-essential' workers going on a strike on Monday.
However, the medical officials have also warned the authorities with the strike of frontline workers including doctors and nurses on February 4 if their demands are not met. The staff reportedly gathered outside the hospitals across the city and handed white ribbons to colleagues who encouraged them to join the strike.
According to an international agency, Winnie Yu, chairwoman of the 9,000 member Hospital Authority Employees Alliance, told reporters that if authorities do not permit 'full border closure', it would result in a decrease in manpower, protective equipment, or isolation to tackle the coronavirus outbreak. Meanwhile, the talks between the union and the government halted on February 2, when Hong Kong city leader Carrie Lam refused to attend the meetings in person.