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Hong Kong Closes Banks, Extends School Holiday Amid Virus Fears

By Liu Yanfei, Zhao Zuoyan and Han Wei / Feb 01, 2020 05:04 AM / Finance

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

1

The Hong Kong authority ordered schools and kindergartens in the city to further extend the Lunar New Year holiday to March 2 as a way of limiting the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

The special region’s government previously postponed the resumption of school to Feb. 17 from Jan. 29. As of Friday morning, 12 coronavirus infections were confirmed in Hong Kong with 191 suspected cases under observation.

Meanwhile, 20% to 30% of bank branches in the Asian financial hub have suspended operations to prevent contagion.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the city faces a shortage of protective gear such as masks, and measures to reduce contact among people and limit gatherings will be an effective way to prevent the disease from spreading. The city government will evaluate the situation and decide whether the March 2 resumption of classes will be further delayed, Lam said.

The Hong Kong government also suggested that public servants work from home until Feb. 9 and told private companies and nongovernment employers to adopt more flexible work schedules.

Since Jan. 28, Hong Kong imposed travel restrictions to prevent a massive inflow from the mainland as the coronavirus outbreak spread quickly from the central Chinese city of Wuhan. As of Friday, the virus has infected nearly 10,000 people in China and spread to 20 countries.

According to Lam, the number of visitors entering Hong Kong from the mainland declined 91% between Jan. 16 and Jan. 30. Just 9.7% of visitors arriving in Hong Kong on Jan. 30 were from the mainland.

Related: Coronavirus Latest: U.S. Reports Its First Person-to-Person Transmission as Death Toll Passes 200

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