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Last day of free flu jabs for Filipinos 50 years up at POLO

Posted on 20 October 2021 No comments

By The SUN 

This is the third day of the free flu jab offer at Polo for qualified people

Filipinos in Hong Kong who are 50 years old and above will have the last chance to receive free seasonal influenza vaccine shots on Thursday, Oct 21, at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Admiralty.

The Hong Kong government is providing the free flu shots under the Department of Health’s vaccination subsidy scheme.

Today, Oct 20, Acting Chief Executive John Lee and other top Hong Kong officials had their seasonal influenza jabs as the government pushed the campaign to get all residents to get inoculated early.

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“Influenza can cause not only serious illnesses in high-risk individuals but also infection in healthy persons. Vaccination is one of the most effective ways to prevent seasonal influenza and its complications,” Lee said.

He said influenza vaccination may reduce the likelihood of hospitalization and length of stay.

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“As such, receiving SIV and getting Covid-19 vaccination are both important. I call on members of the public, especially the high-risk groups including elderly people, to receive SIV early for additional protection to their personal health,” he said

Acting CE John Lee (3rd seat) along with Labour Secretary Law Chi-kwong
and Home Affairs Secretary Caspar Tsui take the flu jab  

Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan also attended the event to show her support.

Chan said that based on past epidemiological patterns, the winter influenza season usually starts in January, but the exact time of arrival cannot be predicted.

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“As it takes about two weeks to develop antibodies, I appeal to the public to receive vaccination early. Influenza vaccines are safe and effective,” Chan said.

Maintaining good personal and environmental hygiene, particularly the proper use of surgical masks, hand hygiene at all times, a balanced diet, regular exercise, and giving up smoking and alcohol consumption are also effective in warding off the flu.

Those who just had their Covid-19 vaccine must wait for at least 14 days before getting the flu jab. Elderly people who are fit to take the flu vaccine must have no problem getting vaccinated for Covid-19. They should receive a coronavirus vaccine early as long as they not suffering from acute illness.

Tunghayan ang isa na namang Kwentong Dream Love
 

The government provides free or subsidized flu shots for eligible groups through various schemes targeting those who are in elderly care homes, schools or are disabled.

Eligible persons include residents of care homes for the elderly and persons with disabilities, child care centres, children aged six months to under 12 years, persons aged 50 and above, pregnant women, persons with intellectual disability and recipients of Disability Allowance.

For more information, visit the website of the Centre for Health Protection (www.chp.gov.hk/en/features/17980.html) or call 2125 2125 during office hours.

Over at POLO, those qualified to take the flu shot can go to the conference room on the 29th floor of the United Centre Bldg in Admiralty from 9:30am to 4:30pm tomorrow.

All they have to do is present their Hong Kong ID card and fill up a vaccination form at the registration desk outside the conference room.

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3 FDHs among 4 new Covid-19 cases

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By The SUN 

Two of the FDH were quarantined in Penny's Bay, the third in Silka Tsuen Wan

Two female domestic helpers from the Philippines and one from Indonesia are among four new imported cases of Covid-19 reported in Hong Kong today, Oct 20. The fourth is a male returnee from Singapore. 

Two of the FDHs were in quarantine at Penny’s Bay when found infected. One is a 32-year-old Filipina who arrived via CX 906 on Oct 10 and the other is a 43-year-old Indonesian who came on Oct 11 via CX798.

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The other Filipina DH, who is 23 years old, was staying at Silka Tsuen Wan Hotel. She arrived on Oct 16 via 5J272.

The lone male patient is a 28-year-old returning resident from Singapore who arrived on Oct 18 via SQ882. He was in quarantine at Silka Far East Hotel in Tsuen Wan when found infected.

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All of the patients were fully vaccinated: the Indonesian with AstraZeneca, the Filipinas both with Sinovac, and the Singaporean with BioNTech.

Three were found to carry the L452 mutant strain of the coronavirus, while the test result of the older Filipina helper is still pending.

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Hong Kong now has a total of 12,305 confirmed cases of Covid-19.

Meanwhile the city’s vaccination rate continues to climb slowly despite the government’s all-out effort to get more residents to take the Covid-19 jabs.

Tunghayan ang isa na namang Kwentong Dream Love
 

As at 8pm yesterday, around 4.56 million people had received at least one dose of a vaccine, accounting for 67.7% of the population aged 12 and above. 

About 8.9million doses have so far been administered in the city, meaning half of the recipients have already been fully vaccinated. 

According to the Department of Health, a total of 6,217 reports of adverse events following vaccination were received since the start of the inoculation program in March this year, accounting for 0.07 percent of the total vaccines administered.

Included in these adverse events are 46 cases of people who died within 14 days of receiving a vaccine. “None of the death cases was associated with vaccination,” said the report.


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Filipina DH dies after collapsing in employer’s home

Posted on No comments

By Vir B. Lumicao 

Rojo never regained consciousness after collapsing Saturday night

A 50-year-old Filipina domestic helper who collapsed in her employer’s house in Yuen Long on Saturday night passed away Tuesday night in Pok Oi Hospital in Yuen Long. Consulate staff said the helper suffered a heart attack

Mary Ann B. Rojo fainted around 11pm while preparing to go to bed and was taken to hospital by her male employer, according to one of her friends in Fairview Park, Yuen Long.

Welfare Officer Virsie Tamayao of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration confirmed today, Oct 20, the helper’s death.

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She said the employer has contacted OWWA and the Consulate’s assistance to nationals section to report Rojo’s passing and to inquire about the repatriation of her remains to her hometown in Ilocos Sur.

“The employer did not give any info about details of (Rojo’s) death. Maybe ATN could provide because they spoke with the employer for the procedure and requirements of repatriation,” the OWWA chief in Hong Kong said.

An ATN officer said the Filipina died of heart attack. Her employer has been told to contact the helper’s family directly to relay the news of her passing.

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Rojo’s friend and provincemate, Maynalyn Reynante, said their group of Filipina helpers in Fairview Park was to have a party last Sunday in their hangout at the village park.

Reynante, 38, the cook among the group of 22 friends who call themselves Fairview Park Girls, said Rojo ordered cassava cake as her contribution to the party. But on Sunday morning, Rojo was not answering calls from her friends.

Reynante volunteered to bike to the house of the helper’s employers to find out what happened, and was met at door by her employer’s grown-up daughter. She told the helper that Rojo was in a coma at the hospital after collapsing.

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“Please pray for your friend. She had a heart attack,” the employer’s daughter who Rojo took care as a child, reportedly told Reynante.

Mary Ann with husband Trinidad and their eldest child

Reynante said she contacted Rojo’s husband Trinidad, a professor at the University of Northern Philippines in Vigan and told him about the helper’s condition.

The employer’s daughter called Reynante on Tuesday night and said Rojo died at 10:56pm. She never regained consciousness.

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Reynante said Rojo, who became her friend since she arrived in Fairview Park six years ago, was a very kind and soft-spoken person.

The younger woman said her friend had been taking maintenance pills for her blood pressure. Just recently Rojo reportedly said her blood pressure was shooting up again, to about 145/100. When she stood up, she felt dizzy.

The deceased had reportedly said she wanted to go home for good as she missed her two children, a girl aged 15 and a boy aged 14. Rojo and her husband ran a furniture store in their hometown of San Vicente, whose income augmented the worker’s remittance.

Tamayao said Rojo’s family receive death and burial benefits amounting to Php120,000, as well as educational assistance for one child and livelihood assistance.

Before Rojo, at least one other Filipino domestic helper died of a suspected heart attack this year.

Teresa dela Cruz, a volunteer in the Philippine Overseas Labor Office’s “Healthwise” health check program for Filipino workers, collapsed on Jan 9 in her employer’s flat in Hing Keng Estate, Shatin.

Dela Cruz, 51, had no record of any pre-existing ailment.

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Agency owner hid when irate customers posted her photo, says co-accused

Posted on 19 October 2021 No comments

By Vir B. Lumicao 

The two are on a District Court trial at West Kowloon Court

A Filipina being tried for allegedly accepting payments for fake jobs and laundering $700,000 in Hong Kong banks said her co-accused employment agency owner went into hiding when angry applicants posted her photo on social media tagging her as a scammer.

Marijane Biscocho, 44, also said in the continuation of her District Court trial for money laundering, using false trade description and breach of her visa condition, that her Filipina colleague who fled before she and her boss were arrested had played a bigger role in the operation.

In her testimony today, Oct 19, before Judge Kathie Cheung, Biscocho said she learned from her co-employee Nympha Lumatac that the agency owner, Lennis Ebrahim, had gone into hiding in October 2019.

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Ebrahim, 55, owner of WHT Consulting Co that offered the bogus jobs, is being tried with Biscocho on a charge of money laundering and one for wrongful acceptance of payment for a product.

Biscocho faces an additional laundering charge, and 20 of the wrongful payment as she was the one who allegedly accepted the money from the scammed jobseekers.

Both are out on bail.

The two allegedly controlled a bank account with HSBC while a separate one at Hang Seng Bank was in Biscocho’s name. The two accounts were said to have been used to launder the money collected from the job seekers.

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Eleven Filipinos accused the two accused of charging at least $12,000 each for such non-existent jobs as gardeners, drivers, printers and field workers in Hong Kong and Macau for their relatives and friends. The pay offer was $7,000 to $13,000 a month.

However, only seven of them appeared as witnesses in the trial. They were Rosalina Agcalis, Jocelyn Domingo, Nena Castro, Maria Aurora Lagura, Jovelyn Villaflor, Mary Joy Liggayu and Preciosa Abellera

On questioning by defense counsel Phil Chau who showed her a photo of Ebrahim, with the word “Scammer” emblazoned above it, Biscocho said that was posted on social media by the applicants in October 2019 when they could no longer contact the agency owner.

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Biscocho also said Agcalis posted the Hong Kong ID card of Lumatac on social media, calling her a scammer. Two separate photos of Lumatac and Biscocho were also said to have been posted by Agcalis to warn the public about their alleged scam.

It was after Agcalis posted Ebrahim’s photo for failing to appear at a scheduled meeting at the Consulate that the agency owner went into hiding, said Biscocho.

Lumatac, the prosecution had said, later fled to Macau and returned to the Philippines.

Tunghayan ang isa na namang Kwentong Dream Love

“I tried to go to Lennis’ house to contact her. I went with Nympha. Nympha told me I had to wait downstairs,” Biscocho said, referring to the Kowloon Bay home of Ebrahim. The agency owner reportedly has another house in Baguio Villa, Pokfulam.

Biscocho on her arrest in November 2019

Biscocho said she waited from 8am to 1pm but Ebrahim did not appear. Biscocho said she tried to call the agency owner but Ebrahim had blocked her. Later, the agency boss cut off all her three phone lines, she said.

Biscocho pointed to Lumatac as the one who mostly dealt with the Filipinos who applied for skilled worker jobs offered by WHT for more than a year in 2018 and 2019.

“Nothing to do with it,” Biscocho replied to most of the queries by Chau as he cited pieces of evidence and situations culled from the volumes of documents gathered from the trial.

When asked who handled a job application, made a statement, or communicated online with the alleged victims of the scam, the defendant would say “it was Nympha” or “it was Lennis.”

The seven witnesses earlier narrated to the court how they were enticed to apply for the purported jobs by WHT. But when six months passed and they still had no visa, they began to suspect they were scammed.

The trial continues tomorrow.

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Time to send your Christmas ‘padala’, say door-to-door companies

Posted on No comments

By Daisy C L Mandap 

Asian Dragon's office in North Point is a beehive of activities these days
 
If you are planning to send Christmas gifts home through door-to-door service, do it as soon as possible. This is the reminder from two of the leading cargo companies servicing Filipinos in Hong Kong.

AFreight’s country manager Rosabelle Woolf says their cut-off time this season is earlier than before due to the “erratic schedule of sailing.” She said the two category 8 typhoons that hit Hong Kong last week also caused delays in sailing.

Cora Ong of Asian Dragon says the same thing. “Due to recent changes in the shipping industry, we recommend that you send your boxes earlier than (before),” she said.

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“We are hopeful that circumstances will change. But, it is important to send sooner rather than later.”

Ong says that even when her company gives an estimate of the time the boxes sent from here reach their destinations in the Philippines, one should be prepared to give an allowance of a few more days to be sure.

“We will try our best to avoid delays but some circumstances like shipping line delays are out of our control,” she says.

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So senders should plan ahead and pack their boxes early “to show their love and care for their families”, adds Ong.

She says all Christmas packages bound for Visayas and Mindanao are already "due," while the cut-off date for Luzon is Nov 15, and Manila, Nov. 30. She adds these are still subject to weather conditions and the stability of vessel schedules.

AFreight has posted its early cut-off dates for holiday shipments

AFreight has a later cut-off date for Visayas and Mindanao, but earlier for Metro Manila and Rizal. Its advisory says boxes bound for the following areas should be sent out no later than the indicated dates:

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Mindanao II:                                       Nov 7

Islands, Visayas II and Mindanao:     Nov 10

Visayas I:                                            Nov 12

Luzon B&C/Bicol:                             Nov 19

Luzon A:                                             Nov 22

Metro Manila & Rizal:                      Nov 28

Even after setting down the cut-off dates, AFreight still urges caution, saying these are based on its normal operating lead time.  

Tunghayan ang isa na namang Kwentong Dream Love

“We encourage everyone to send their boxes before the cut-off dates in case of delays that are beyond our control,” said the company’s advisory.

Woolf says there has been a surge in the number of people sending boxes home even amid the pandemic, despite the overall decline in the FDH population.

Marami kasing amo ang nag relocate at marami sa kanilang mga helpers ang nag for good na. Hindi na naghanap ng amo,” she says.

(There are a lot of employers who have relocated, and their helpers decided to go home for good. They did not look for new employers).

Woolf says most of those who go home for good prefer to send their stuff in boxes so they can travel light.

Kailangan nilang ipadala kasi mahirap ang maraming dala kung i-quarantine pa sila bago makauwi sa final destination,” she explains.

(They need to send their belongings ahead because it will be difficult for them to carry so much stuff since they still need to be quarantined before reaching their final destination).

AFreight may be contacted through its hotline, 2522 4253.

Asian Dragon's hotline is 2571 2311.

Both their locations and other details can be found in The SUN Hong Kong Services Guide 

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Quarantine hotel rooms increased to 11,500 by December

Posted on No comments

 By The SUN 

Holiday Inn Golden Mile is one of the 5 new designated quarantine hotels

The Hong Kong government has designated five more quarantine hotels ahead of the Christmas holidays, raising the total number of rooms available to 11,500 from the previous 10,000.

According to the government, a total of 40 hotels will provide the available rooms in the next cycle, which will run from Dec 1, 2021 to Feb 28, 2022. 

About 2,000 hotels and guesthouses were reportedly invited to apply to the scheme, but only 45 hotels submitted applications. 

"Upon assessment, 40 hotels, including 35 in the fifth cycle, were selected as DQHs to join the sixth cycle to provide about 11,500 rooms of various types and rates for selection by arrivals in Hong Kong from places other than the Mainland and Macao,” said the government statement.

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Foreign domestic helpers who were vaccinated in their home countries do not qualify to stay in these DQHs, as the government requires them to stay exclusively at Penny’s Bay Quarantine Centre or Silka Tsuen Wan hotel.

The government said it may adjust the number of rooms available in the next cycle “as and where necessary.”

The current cycle which will last until the end of November includes a total of 35 hotels, which are mostly low to middle-priced. More of the same will be provided in the next cycle.

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The five additional hotels included in the sixth cycle are iClub Fortress Hill Hotel, O’Hotel, Nina Hotel Tsuen Wan West (Tower 1), Lanson Place in Causeway Bay and Holiday Inn Golden Mile in Tsim Sha Tsui.

Michael Li, executive director of the Federation of Hong Kong Hotel Owners, said in a TV interview earlier, “Most hotels (joining the scheme) will be four-stars or lower, as people prefer middle-priced hotels.”

He said his group has been in discussion with the government about the next round of the hotel designation scheme amid concerns about a possible shortage during the pre-holiday rush, when many overseas students return home to spend Christmas with their family.

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The list of DQHs in the sixth cycle and related details, including room rates, can be found here: www.designatedhotel.gov.hk.

iClub Fortress Hill Hotel is also among the new additions to the list

Meanwhile, two new confirmed cases of Covid-19 were reported today, involving a 51-year-old man who arrived from the United Kingdom and a 3-year-old girl who came from Mongolia via Korea.

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Both flew in on Oct 17, and both were found to carry the L452R mutant strain of the coronavirus. The man was fully vaccinated in Hong Kong and was asymptomatic. The girl developed symptoms yesterday.

They took Hong Kong’s total Covid-19 tally to 12,301 confirmed cases.

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