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Hong Kong to halt all rail, ferry links with mainland over virus

In this Jan. 23, 2020 photo, passengers wear protective face masks at the departure hall of a high-speed train station in Hong Kong. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

HONG KONG (Kyodo) -- Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam announced on Tuesday that all rail and ferry routes with mainland China will be halted effective midnight on Thursday due to the threat of the coronavirus that has killed over a hundred people on the mainland, local media reported.

Lam also said that cross-border flights will be cut by half and the Sha Tau Kok and Man Kam To border checkpoints will be closed to all passenger traffic to prevent the spread in Hong Kong, where eight cases of the viral infection have already been confirmed.

She said mainland authorities have agreed to suspend an scheme wherein Chinese individuals people were allowed to travel to Hong Kong without joining a package tour. Earlier, all package tours were suspended as part of disease-control measures.

Earlier, the government announced it had banned all residents of Hubei Province, the epicenter of the outbreak, from entering Hong Kong until further notice.

Public facilities including museums and sport center have been closed, while civil servants have been encourage to work from home.

According to the South China Morning Post, the latest statistics showed there were 1.92 million visitors from the mainland to the city in November, accounting for 72.8 per cent of total arrivals.

In the first 11 months, the number of mainland visitors to Hong Kong stood at 41.3 million and accounting for 78.3 per cent of the total, it said.

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