Documents to download

COVID-19 is a strand of coronavirus first reported in Wuhan, China. It is a respiratory disease resulting in mild to severe or critical symptoms. Older people and those with existing health conditions are most at risk of developing severe symptoms.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared the COVID-19 outbreak a public health emergency and has urged every country to make tackling the disease its highest priority. Some national and local governments have implemented measures ranging from travel restrictions, strict quarantine requirements, bans on public gatherings and the temporary closure of schools, universities and workplaces.

Hong Kong has had 118 confirmed cases of the disease and three deaths as at 10 March 2020. Worldwide there have been over 113,000 confirmed cases of the disease and over 4,000 deaths. The UK had reported 373 cases and six deaths. The WHO has praised Hong Kong’s government’s response to the outbreak, which has included strict quarantine and travel restrictions and closing some public services, including schools. However, concerns have been raised about the social and economic impact of the measures taken. There have been reports of protests and mass arrests in recent weeks.

The Sino-British Declaration sets out how Hong Kong should be governed following its return to China in 1997. It guarantees certain rights and freedoms for its citizens, some of which obtained British National (Overseas) status, and a high degree of autonomy for the Hong Kong government. These rights and requirements last until 2047. The declaration has been registered with the United Nations (UN) and the UK monitors whether it is being upheld. However, the UK has no specific powers of intervention.

The British Consulate-General in Hong Kong has said it will maintain “close contact with British nationals in the region to ensure they have the latest information they need” if they encounter any difficulties due to the outbreak.

On 19 March 2020, the House of Lords is due to debate a motion moved by Lord Pendry (Labour) to move that “this House takes note of the problems facing the citizens of Hong Kong as a result of Wuhan coronavirus; and the case for Her Majesty’s Government providing support to those affected in the light of the 1984 Sino-British Declaration”.


Documents to download

Related posts

  • UK position on foreign affairs

    In 2021 the government published an integrated review of security, defence, development and foreign policy. It published a refreshed review in March 2023 to take account of developments in foreign affairs over the preceding two years. The government has since published a number of policy papers and strategies to complement the refreshed review. In addition, Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton was appointed as foreign secretary in November 2023.

    UK position on foreign affairs
  • Anaesthesia associates and physician associates

    The government is planning to legislate to bring physician associates (PAs) and anaesthesia associates (AAs) under the regulation of the General Medical Council (GMC). Although there is support for regulating these roles, there are concerns that patients do not always understand that PAs and AAs are not doctors. A House of Lords committee has also highlighted that the legislation would allow the GMC to set and change rules without parliamentary oversight.

    Anaesthesia associates and physician associates