How is the coronavirus impacting relations between Hong Kong and China?

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent John Ray

Hong Kong has reported its first death from coronavirus, adding to growing fears the viral pneumonia is spreading locally.

The news comes as thousands of medical workers in the semi-autonomous territory went on strike for a second day - demanding the border with mainland China be shut completely in a bid to stop the illness spreading further.

Hong Kong was hit hard by SARS - a virus from the same family as the current outbreak - which spread from China to more than a dozen countries in 2002-2003 and killed about 800 people.

Protesters in Hong Kong hold signs showing their demands. Credit: AP

The continued industrial action in Hong Kong on Tuesday reflected the state of relations between mainland China and the semi-autonomous authority.

Trust in the Chinese government has plummeted following months of anti-government protests in Hong Kong.

Following the coronavirus outbreak, all but two of Hong Kong's land and sea crossings with the mainland were closed at midnight on Monday.

So far, four cases of the virus have been confirmed to have originated from inside Hong Kong itself.

Passengers queue for a flight in Hong Kong wearing face masks. Credit: AP

The first fatality from coronavirus in Hong Kong was a 39-year-old man who had travelled to Wuhan - the epicentre of the outbreak.

The Hospital Authority said on Tuesday that the man had pre-existing health conditions but gave no details.

The 39-year-old's mother has also been taken into hospital to be treated for coronavirus.

Those living in close proximity to the man and his mother told ITV News they feel anxious about the potential spread of the virus.

One neighbour said: "It's scary because we share the same lift, we don't know whether she has left any virus on the handle".

Anti-Chinese government protests in Hong Kong took place throughout 2019-2020, before the pandemic Credit: AP

More than 7,000 health workers joined the strike Tuesday calling for the borders to be closed, according to the Hospital Authority Employees' Alliance.

Authorities refuse to meet their demand, however, the territory's leader, Carrie Lam, criticised the strike and said the government was doing all it could to limit the flow of people across the border.

“Important services, critical operations have been affected," including cancer treatment and care for newborns, Ms Lam told reporters.

"So I’m appealing to those who are taking part in this action: Let’s put the interests of the patients and the entire public health system above all other things."

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaks during a press conference held in Hong Kong. Credit: AP

The latest death toll reported by China from the coronavirus is at 425, with 20,438 confirmed cases.

Outside mainland China, at least 180 cases have been confirmed, including two fatalities, the one in Hong Kong and another in the Philippines

Most deaths have been among the elderly and those with other health problems, authorities said.