China said Tuesday the number of infections from a new virus surpassed 20,000 as medical workers and patients arrived at a new hospital and President Xi Jinping said "we have launched a people's war of prevention of the epidemic".
Xi presided over a special meeting of the top Communist Party body for the second time since the crisis started, telling the Politburo standing committee on Monday the country must race against time to curb the spread of the virus. He also said those who neglect their duties will be punished, state broadcaster CCTV reported.
Hong Kong shut almost all of its land and sea border crossings with the mainland at midnight after medical workers began a strike demanding the border be closed completely. More than 2,000 hospital workers went on strike Monday, and their union has threatened a bigger walkout Tuesday.
Hong Kong was hit hard by Sars, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, in 2002-03, an illness from the same family of viruses as the current outbreak and which many believe was intensified by official Chinese secrecy and obfuscation.
The mainland's latest figures of 425 deaths and 20,438 confirmed infections with the new coronavirus were up from 361 deaths and 17,205 cases the previous day. Outside mainland China, at least 180 cases have been confirmed, including one fatality, in the Philippines.