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Virus Fears Become New Source of Unrest for Battered Hong Kong

Virus Fears Become New Source of Unrest for Battered Hong Kong(Bloomberg) — The Hong Kong government halted work to use a housing estate as a possible coronavirus quarantine facility, after violent protests at the site showed outbreak fears becoming a new source of unrest for the city.A few hundred protesters in surgical masks initially barricaded a road in the Fanling district to object to a proposal to use the unoccupied Fai Ming housing development as an emergency medical facility. Some said the site was too close to their homes, while others complained that approved applicants risked losing their flats in the estate should it be implemented.Demonstrators blocked roads, built barricades with trash and paralyzed traffic in Fanling near the facility, police said. Later, they damaged traffic lights and set fire to the lobby of one building by throwing petrol bombs, it said. Riot police were seen walking around the estate asking people to show their identities and inspecting their bags.The incident saw Hong Kong’s twin crises — political unrest and the threat of a viral outbreak in mainland China spreading across the border — converge in a striking echo of a similar period of anxiety about the city’s future during the SARS scare 17 years ago. Both issues were charged with deep local mistrust of authorities.At least 80 people have died in China from the coronavirus outbreak, state broadcaster China Central Television said Monday, up from just two fatalities a week ago. More than 2,000 cases have so far been confirmed, the vast majority of them in China.New Year Holiday Extended, China Deaths Jump in Virus Crisis (1)On Saturday, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam upgraded the government’s response against the coronavirus to the highest level and said the outbreak could extend the city’s recession into 2020. Hong Kong has six confirmed infections as of Sunday.Disease Scare Gives Hong Kong Leader Lam a Diversion From UnrestHong Kong has been on high alert regarding communicable diseases since the 2003 outbreak of SARS, which originated in China’s Guangdong province in 2002 and ripped through the financial hub the following year. The virus infected about 2,000 people and killed nearly 300 in Hong Kong, crippling tourism and the real estate industries — dealing a major blow to the economy.On Sunday, the government said in a statement that it would halt work to ready the Fai Ming Estate in Fanling as a possible quarantine site. Three other facilities were already prepared, it said.“The government acknowledges and understands that there is concern among some residents in the North District of the requisition of Fai Ming Estate,” it said in a statement. “Representatives of relevant government departments will attend North District Council meeting this Wednesday to explain and discuss on the issue. Meanwhile, the government will cease the related preparation work in Fai Ming Estate.”Hong Kong called off its largest marathon, which was scheduled to be held with events on Feb. 8 and 9, further delaying the city’s efforts to bounce back from political unrest that has forced the cancellation of numerous events. Other tourist-focused facilities have temporarily shut their gates, such as the Ocean Park, just two weeks after the government detailed plans to help the theme park through financial difficulty.More than seven months of pro-democracy protests have battered the former British colony’s economy, undermined its reputation for political stability and increased geopolitical tensions between the U.S. and China. Beijing has governed Hong Kong since 1997 under a “one country, two systems” framework that preserves its freedom of expression, independent courts and capitalist financial system.The demonstrations since June were ignited by a proposed law to allow extraditions to jurisdictions including mainland China. After a couple of months of demonstrations, the government withdrew the bill but the protesters’ demands had broadened to include greater democracy and an independent inquiry into police conduct during the unrest.Meanwhile, anti-government protests continued over the weekend. Police fired tear gas to disperse protesters who gathered in the crowded shopping hub of Mong Kok at the site of a 2016 protest that marked a violent turn by the city’s pro-democracy movement. Demonstrators turned out even though organizers canceled a rally initially planned for Sunday to mark the so-called Fishball Revolution to comply with a police ban.To contact the reporters on this story: Julia Fioretti in Hong Kong at jfioretti4@bloomberg.net;Fion Li in Hong Kong at fli59@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Shamim Adam at sadam2@bloomberg.net, Brendan Scott, Andrew DavisFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.



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Hong Kong, U.S. take steps to curb coronavirus spread

Hong Kong, U.S. take steps to curb coronavirus spreadAs experts tell people not to panic about the unfamiliar coronavirus, several governments are taking steps to limit its spread.A second case of the respiratory virus that originated in Wuhan, China, leaving more than 40 people dead and causing quarantines and transit closures throughout China, has been confirmed in the United States. Officials said Friday that a Chicago woman in her 60s has been diagnosed with the virus, and they're monitoring 63 other possible cases across 22 U.S. states. The Chicago patient, who last week returned home from Wuhan, is reportedly isolated in the hospital, and officials say she's doing well and has had limited contact with others.The U.S. is reportedly planning to evacuate its citizens and diplomats from Wuhan on Sunday via a chartered plane — any additional seats may be offered to non-U.S. citizens. Elsewhere, Hong Kong, where there's five confirmed cases, on Saturday declared the outbreak "an emergency," scrapping Lunar New Year celebrations, restricting links to the mainland, and keeping schools closed. Australia, Malaysia, and France also reported cases Friday.More than 1,300 have been infected across the globe, mostly in China. Read more at The Wall Street Journal and Reuters.More stories from theweek.com The Grammys are America's worst awards show Trump is winning the impeachment battle — but losing the war GOP Senator, military veteran defends Trump's comments on soldiers' brain injuries



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Hong Kong protesters torch planned virus quarantine building

Hong Kong protesters torch planned virus quarantine buildingA group of protesters set alight the lobby of a newly built residential building in Hong Kong on Sunday that authorities planned to use as a quarantine facility for the coronavirus outbreak. A Reuters witness saw several masked protesters, clad in black, rush into the public housing block in the Fanling district near to the border with China, and set alight a Molotov cocktail before running out. As fears about the virus outbreak intensify, calls have grown for the Hong Kong government to block the financial hub’s border with mainland China to minimize the risk of infection.



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Hong Kong declares Wuhan virus outbreak an 'emergency'

Hong Kong declares Wuhan virus outbreak an 'emergency'Hong Kong on Saturday declared a new coronavirus outbreak as an “emergency” — the city’s highest warning tier — as authorities ramped up measures to reduce the risk of further infections. 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 which connects with the mainland. Lam held emergency meetings with health officials on Saturday morning after returning from Davos.



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INSIGHT-Arrested Hong Kong protesters stuck in limbo as cases grind forward

INSIGHT-Arrested Hong Kong protesters stuck in limbo as cases grind forwardDerek Tai was arrested outside Hong Kong’s Legislative Council building last June, early in the city’s anti-government protests, which have seen millions join demonstrations over the past seven months. Tai, a soft-spoken 21-year-old philosophy major, was one of the first protesters to be arrested. In past cases, defendants have been sentenced to eight months.



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Hong Kong on high alert to tackle coronavirus outbreak

Hong Kong on high alert to tackle coronavirus outbreakHong Kong’s government is on high alert to deal with a new flu-like coronavirus that has killed nine people in mainland China, the city’s commerce secretary, Edward Yau, said on Wednesday. The outbreak has rattled financial markets as investors recall the huge impact of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which killed nearly 800 people globally during a 2002/03 outbreak that also started in China. Yau is part of a delegation on a mission to the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos to convince global business and political leaders that the Asian financial hub is back on track after more than seven months of protests, even as it faces a potentially more damaging crisis.



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Police arrest organiser of Hong Kong protest after rally turns violent

Police arrest organiser of Hong Kong protest after rally turns violentA prominent Hong Kong pro-democracy activist was arrested by police, his organisation said on Monday, after a protest he helped organise in the financial district a day earlier turned violent with officers firing tear gas to disperse the crowds. Ventus Lau was arrested on Sunday evening on charges of “obstruction of police administration” and violating terms set when permission was granted for the protest, the Hong Kong Civil Assembly Team said in a statement. “It was primarily rioters’ violent acts which led to the suspension of the gathering,” Senior Superintendent Ng Lok-chun told reporters.



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Off-duty Hong Kong police officer arrested for supporting protests

Off-duty Hong Kong police officer arrested for supporting protestsAn off-duty Hong Kong police officer was arrested along with seven other people on Friday as they tried to put pro-democracy posters on a footbridge, police said. It’s the first known case of a police officer being apprehended for supporting the massive demonstrations that have led to more than 6,500 arrests in the past seven months. The officer, 31, and the seven other people aged 14 to 61, were arrested at 3:00 am on Friday in Tuen Mun, a district in northwest Hong Kong.



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Hong Kong police arrest protesters in shopping mall

Hong Kong police arrest protesters in shopping mallHong Kong police arrested about a dozen protesters and used pepper spray on Saturday to break up a protest in a shopping mall aimed at disrupting retail businesses near the border with mainland China. Demonstrators have been targeting malls across Hong Kong since earlier this week and more than a hundred protesters, many dressed in black with face masks, marched through a mall in Sheung Shui on Saturday, chanting “Go back to China”. Sheung Shui, which is just over the border from the Chinese city of Shenzhen, is popular with so-called parallel traders who buy large volumes of duty-free goods in Hong Kong and then sell them on the mainland.



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Hong Kong police paid $17 million in allowances related to protests

Hong Kong police paid $  17 million in allowances related to protestsHong Kong police have earned a total of HK$ 135 million ($ 17.3 million) in allowances during the past six months of anti-government protests, government figures show. The meal and work-related allowances were on top of HK$ 950 million overtime pay that police have earned since the protests intensified in June, according to the figures released to city legislators on Friday. The Chinese-ruled city has been convulsed by more than 900 often violent protests since June, the security bureau said earlier, as public opposition to a now-withdrawn extradition bill developed into demands for greater freedoms.



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