In a bizarre attack, masked protesters have thrown Molotov cocktails into the lobby of a building that the Hong Kong authorities were planning to use to quarantine people in need of testing for the deadly coronavirus.
As of Sunday, a total of eight people in Hong Kong had been diagnosed with the disease originating from the mainland China city of Wuhan, with three more patients added to the list. Hong Kong has declared a state of emergency over the outbreak and rolled out measures to prevent the spread of the infection.
One of these was meant to reserve a newly-built empty public housing building in the Fanling area as a backup quarantine area for people who may have contacted infected patients but don’t show symptoms themselves.
But the decision has sparked protests from some local residents fearful that the building would pose a public health threat. On Sunday, some seemed to have taken their fears to another level, by using firebombs.
In the wake of the incident the Hong Kong health authorities said the plan to use the building was suspended. Several other sites in more isolated locations have been set aside for the same purpose.
The firebombing incident highlights how the tactics embraced by violent anti-Beijing protesters in Hong Kong has become common in the city. Amid the coronavirus outbreak the city authorities have come under increased pressure, with a medical staff union demanding the closure Hong Kong’s border, threatening to go on strike otherwise.
The city is also working on providing isolated temporary housing to medics working with infected patients and who want to live separately from their families until the threat is dealt-with.
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