Virus cases in China exceed 20,000 when Hong Kong reports its first death

HONG KONG: Hong Kong reported his first coronavirus death on Tuesday, a 39-year-old male who had been suffering from an underlying illness and had visited China's Wuhan city in January, hospital staff said, marking the second death outside China.

The first death outside of China was reported on Sunday - a 44-year-old Chinese man who died in the Philippines after travelling there from Wuhan, the epicentre of the virus.

The death toll in China rose on Tuesday by a new daily record to more than 420 and total infections in China rose by 3,235 to 20,438. There were at least 151 cases in 23 other countries and regions, including the United States, Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong and Britain.

The Hong Kong death comes as hundreds of medical workers in the Asian financial hub began a second day of strikes on Tuesday to force the government to completely close the city's borders with mainland China, a day after embattled leader Carrie Lam left three remaining checkpoints open.

The former British colony has so far had 15 confirmed cases, including one that was transmitted locally.

With red and white signs that said Save HK now. I am a staff of the Hospital Authority on strike, masked workers spilled from inside the headquarters located in Kowloon of the Authority, and went out to the main road.

On Monday, authorities in Hong Kong announced the closure of four more border crossings with mainland China, leaving open the international airport, the bridge connecting the city to Macau and the southern Chinese city of Zhuhai as well as Shenzhen Bay Port in the north.

Around 2,700 workers from the newly formed Hospital Authority Employees Alliance (HAEA) went on strike on Monday to call for a sealing off of Hong Kong's border and for better protection for hospital staff.

Lam has rejected calls to close the entire border, saying that such a measure would be inappropriate and impractical, as well as discriminatory.

The United States, Australia, Singapore, New Zealand and Vietnam are among the countries that have denied entry to foreigners who have recently been to China.

Last week the Hong Kong government suspended the cross- border travel network at six checkpoints and halved the number of flights to the mainland among other measures.

The executive president of the city's hospital authority, Tony Ko, said in a statement Monday night that, while the authority agreed that the flow of cross-border passengers should be further reduced to prevent the spread of the virus, we are not I agree to compromise patient safety by expressing opinions.

A spokesman for the authority said Tuesday that due to the great absence of medical personnel in public hospitals today, some emergency services have been severely affected.