Amid growing panic and outrage, coronavirus fears are uniting those at war in Hong Kong

A city once wracked by violent protests is facing another crisis – but one that could unite both sides of the political spectrum. As borders close, supplies run out and medical workers go on strike, Brian McGleenon reports from a nation on the edge

Tuesday 04 February 2020 20:30 GMT
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Thousands of medical workers have gone on strike to pressure the government into a full closure of the border with China
Thousands of medical workers have gone on strike to pressure the government into a full closure of the border with China (AFP/Getty)

Wuhan is in lockdown. Quarantined within their high rise apartments, residents call out to one another from darkened windows. “Wuhan jiayou”, they shout, or “stay strong Wuhan”. Sometimes they break into spontaneous songs of solidarity for the city at the epicentre of what Harvard’s Doctor Eric Feigl-Ding has declared “an inevitable global pandemic”.

On the deserted streets below soldiers file by, accompanied by doctors and nurses recruited from across China – but like the liquidators of Chernobyl, these brave volunteers may never return home.

The foreboding scenes from inside Wuhan and landlocked Hubei province have trickled out through the social media site Weibo. The platform is awash with harrowing images of people collapsing in the streets, some dead, their bodies collected by patrolling medics in hazmat suits and gas masks. For Hong Kong’s apprehensive populace 550 miles to the south, it’s a waiting game.

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