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HK residents flock to mainland amid virus wave

By ZHOU MO and PEI PEI in Shenzhen, Guangdong | China Daily | Updated: 2020-12-11 08:48
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Queues snake through the hall of Shenzhen Bay Port in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, with hundreds of travelers from Hong Kong waiting to cross the border into the Chinese mainland.

Some have been there for hours, waiting to clear immigration and then customs. Once those procedures are finished, another journey awaits them-they will be shuttled to hotels where they will undergo 14 days of quarantine.

A Hong Kong resident surnamed Wong told local media that she left her home at 11:30 am on Friday and finally checked into a Shenzhen hotel 15 hours later.

A large number of people from Hong Kong have been flocking to Shenzhen in recent days as the special administrative region grapples with a new wave of coronavirus infections.

According to statistics from Hong Kong's immigration department, 3,577 Hong Kong residents traveled to the Chinese mainland by air, by crossing the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge or arriving at Shenzhen Bay Port on Dec 8-almost triple the figure on Nov 8.

Nearly 4,500 arrived from Hong Kong each day over a two-day period, Dec 4 and 5, after the SAR announced that all face-to-face classes at kindergartens, primary and secondary schools would be suspended from Dec 2.

"Many people from Hong Kong are rushing to the Chinese mainland these days out of fear of the coronavirus infections in the city. The phenomenon was especially evident last week as a lot of parents brought their children with them after classes in Hong Kong were suspended," said Pei Zhirong, an official from the emergency management department of Luohu district in Shenzhen.

Pei, who is in charge of transporting Hong Kong residents from Shenzhen Bay Port to hotels in Luohu, said about 30 percent of the people are aged between 4 and 17.

"We expect the numbers to go up even further in the coming days as Christmas approaches," he said.

The surging number of arrivals are also putting heavy pressure on the capacity of Shenzhen hotels. An employee at a quarantine hotel in Luohu said the hotel is running near capacity and added that those in Futian and Nanshan districts are facing greater pressure.

According to Guangdong's quarantine rules, arrivals from Hong Kong need to present valid negative COVID-19 test results issued within 24 hours of their departure to be allowed entry into the province.

Hong Kong reported 112 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, bringing its infection tally to 7,292.

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