'Thousands' queue for masks as Hong Kong shuts most borders with China

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent John Ray

Thousands have been queueing for face masks in Hong Kong as locals worry over the spread of the coronavirus from China.

Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam announced the city will shut almost all land and sea border control points to the mainland from midnight on Monday to stem the spread of the virus.

Ms Lam said in a briefing Monday that only two border checkpoints - at Shenzhen Bay and the bridge to Macau and Zhuhai - will remain open.

And in the centre of Hong Kong, where on pharmacy had just received a fresh intake of face masks, thousands have been waiting in a line stretching hundreds of metres.

ITV News Correspondent John Ray reported from the line, where he says people are “very worried”.

Ms Lam denied that the move to close much of the border was due to pressure from medical workers who threatened a five-day strike to demand the government shut all borders to the mainland.

A Hospital Authority Employees Alliance statement demanded Ms Lam’s government forbid all travellers from entering via China, stop non-emergency medical services and ensure hospital workers have enough masks and other supplies.

Public broadcaster RTHK reports that some went on strike on Monday and more threatened to walk out on Tuesday if their demands were not met.

Ms Lam said the border closures had "absolutely nothing to do with the strike" and was instead simply a measure to stem the spread of the virus which has infected 15 people in Hong Kong.

She urged Hong Kong residents to "stand united" in combating the outbreak.

Hong Kong hospital workers attend a vote for a strike, to demand closure of border with mainland China in Hong Kong. Credit: AP

Hong Kong’s economy shrank last year for the first time since 2009, adding to pressure on the territory as it struggles with the impact the virus outbreak

And border restrictions could impact businesses in Hong Kong, which some workers are concerned about.

Meanwhile, authorities also presented a new electronic tag that will used by those placed under home quarantine.

Ms Lam explained a bracelet, linked to a smartphone, will be necessary for all quarantine cases.

The announcement came after a new outburst on the streets against government plans to set up a temporary quarantine centre close to the crowded suburb of Mei Foo.

Residents poured on to the streets two nights in a row to oppose the plan.