China: Hong Kong imposes quarantine rules

Hong Kong has begun a mandatory two-week quarantine for anyone arriving from mainland China, in a fresh effort to contain the deadly new coronavirus.

Visitors must isolate themselves in hotel rooms or go to government-run centres, while returning Hong Kong residents must stay inside their homes.

Anyone caught flouting the new rules faces a fine and a prison sentence.

Tens of thousands of travellers queued at the Chinese border city of Shenzhen to beat the Friday midnight deadline.

But by Saturday morning only a trickle of people were arriving via the Shenzhen Bay Port crossing.

Hong Kong has seen 26 confirmed cases of the virus and one person has died. The number of confirmed cases in mainland China stands at 34,546, with 722 deaths.

Outside China, 270 cases have been confirmed in at least 25 countries, with one other fatality – in the Philippines.

Meanwhile, another 41 people on a quarantined cruise ship off Japan have tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases on board to 61.

There was some positive news on Friday when the World Health Organization (WHO) said there had been fewer reported infections in China in the past two days. However, director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus cautioned against reading too much into those figures.

Media captionFootage appearing to show people held in quarantine in a makeshift facility in Wuhan, has been shared across social media

He also told reporters that the outbreak had caused a global shortage of protective medical equipment such as gowns, masks and gloves.

“When supply is short, and demand is high then there could be bad practices like hoarding in order to sell them at higher prices,” he warned, urging suppliers to “uphold the protection of humanity” rather than looking to increase profits.

The WHO also released new data from 17,000 patients that suggested 82% had a mild form of the disease, with 15% considered severe cases and 3% critical.

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