In this Jan 4, 2020, file photo, health surveillance officer use temperature scanners to monitor passengers arriving at the Hong Kong International airport in Hong Kong. (ANDY WONG / AP)
DAVOS, Switzerland - The Hong Kong government is on high alert to deal with a new flu-like coronavirus that has killed nine people on the Chinese mainland, the city's commerce secretary, Edward Yau, told Reuters at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Wednesday.
Yau, speaking at the Swiss ski resort, also said the Special Administrative Region (SAR) is well placed to address any cyclical and structural challenges, just days after Moody's downgraded the financial hub.
The outbreak has rattled financial markets as investors recall the huge impact of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which killed nearly 800 people globally during a 2002/03 outbreak that started in China.
Yau is part of a delegation on a mission to the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos. "The whole world is watching this new epidemic ... We are also getting fully prepared for this because of such close proximity between Hong Kong and the mainland, and very hectic travel," Yau told Reuters.
During the Lunar New Year celebrations, tens of millions of Chinese travel domestically, starting this week. "Policy is on high alert, making sure that we can contain and prevent the spreading of the disease."
The virus, originating in Wuhan at the end of last year, has spread to Chinese cities including Beijing and Shanghai, as well as the United States, Thailand, South Korea and Japan. The Macao SAR confirmed on Wednesday its first case of pneumonia linked to the coronavirus.
Speaking about the city's "one country, two systems" principle of governance, Yau said Hong Kong was holding on "steadfastly" to the system.
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