Hong Kong pledges nearly R50bn as city seeks to contain spread of coronavirus

Hong Kong – Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam on Friday pledged handouts totalling HK$25 billion (about R47.8 billion) to the Hospital Authority and businesses grappling with the coronavirus outbreak that has piled further pressure on the Chinese-ruled city’s battered economy.

Lam, speaking at a press conference, said the government would provide HK$4.7 billion (R9 billion) to the Hospital Authority in addition to a series of one-off payments to retailers and others impacted by the outbreak.

Hong Kong has 56 confirmed cases of the virus, which has killed one person in the city.

Chinese authorities on Friday reported more than 5 000 new cases of the infection, taking the total number of infected to 63 851. Some 1 380 people have died of the virus that emerged in December in Wuhan, capital of the central province of Hubei.

Lam, accused by some residents of mishandling the health crisis, said the government would issue one-off payments of HKD$80,000 to certified travel agents and between HKD$80 000 (R153 000) and HK$200 000 (R382 000) to restaurants, food and beverage businesses based on their size.