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Hong Kong leader denies calls to close border amid coronavirus fears

Hong Kong leader denies calls to close border amid coronavirus fears
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Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has yet to close the semi-autonomous region's border with mainland China, despite calls to do so from medical professionals amid mounting fears about a novel coronavirus.

On Friday, the newly created Hospital Authority Employees Alliance said that 6,500 of its members would strike if Lam didn't close the border, Reuters reports.

The group's ultimatum comes after the World Health Organization (WHO) labeled the virus a global emergency on Thursday. 

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The WHO also recommended that all countries try to prevent the cross-border spread of the virus, which originated in the mainland Chinese city of Wuhan, but noted that unnecessary interference with trade or travel should be avoided.

“I am afraid [closing the border] contradicts the WHO suggestion ... which asks governments not to take any measures that may fuel discrimination,” Lam said at a press conference Friday.

She also condemned the potential strike, saying that it would only hurt "Hong Kong citizens and the public health system."

As of Friday, there were 12 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Hong Kong, but no deaths.

According to the wire service, the number of confirmed cases in mainland China is approaching 10,000, with over 200 deaths.