The Latest: Amnesty Intl says outbreak hurting human rights

BEIJING (AP) — The Latest on a virus outbreak that began in China (all times local):

4:20 p.m.

The human rights group Amnesty International has urged governments to avoid violating human rights as they strive to contain and end the outbreak of a virus centered in China that has killed more than 560 people.

The group cautioned against heightened use of censorship, arbitrary detentions and other restrictions, and urged authorities to ensure that all people affected have access to health care.

The statement said that activists trying to spread information about the virus through social media and other means have been harassed or questioned. It said such moves to quash the flow of information can be “disastrously counter-productive.”

One of the biggest risks involves discrimination and xenophobia arising from fears of contagion, both inside and outside China. Amnesty’s statement noted that people have been rejected from hotels, kept prisoners in their homes and suffered having their personal information leaked online.

Amnesty’s regional director, Nicholas Bequelin, said “The Chinese government should take measures to protect people from discrimination, while governments around the world should take a zero-tolerance approach to the racist targeting of people of Chinese and Asian origin.”


2 p.m.

A Hong Kong medical union has warned that its 20,000 members could resign en masse if the semi-autonomous territory’s Hospital Authority refuses to hold a dialogue with them over their demands amid an ongoing strike.

Thousands of union members have been on strike since Monday demanding that Hong Kong authorities completely close the border with mainland China to stem the spread of the new coronavirus and ensure a safe working environment including sufficient protective gear for staff.

Hong Kong is struggling to curb the spread of the virus after reporting 21 cases, including local transmission. The strike has hurt emergency and medical services but the government has refused to completely seal the border.

Two border checkpoints with China remain open. The government said Wednesday that it will quarantine all arrivals from China for two weeks starting on Saturday, a move the medical union chief Winnie Yu says will only further burden the city’s medical system.