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Agencies urge Covid-19 test validity for FDWs extended to 7 days

22 July 2020

By Daisy CL Mandap

Most Philippine testing centers guarantee results upwards of 3 days

A group of employment agencies has called on the Hong Kong government to extend to seven days the validity of the Covid-19 testing for Filipino and Indonesian domestic workers who will fly in from Jul 25, from the current 72 hours.

The Hong Kong Union of Employment Agencies said in a press release issued on Jul 20 that the requirement was not realistic as most swab tests carried out overseas are not released within 72 hours.

In the Philippines, most hospitals that do Covid-19 testing send back test results no earlier than three days. Only Makati Medical Center guarantees a result within two days, at a cost of Php8,150.


The Philippine Red Cross, which charges the cheapest fee of between Php1158 and Php4,000, takes a week to send the test result.

The agencies said that the 7-day validity is in line with the standard set by the neighboring city of Guangdong.

Even if some tests results are released within 48 hours, the statement said the time left for employers to confirm the worker’s ticket and hotel booking for quarantine is too short.
Should the worker fail to meet the requirement in time and misses her flight, the employer will end up shouldering a huge cost.

In the  HKUEA's estimate, the total cost for the failed test fee, cancelled flight and hotel booking would amount to around $10,000.
 
HKUEA earlier called on the government to provide a centralized quarantine facility for FDWs
Because of such problems, the Union predicted that the FDW deployments to Hong Kong will fall sharply, despite the strong demand from employers, and the sending countries might also stop sending their workers here.


The new travel restrictions for people flying into Hong Kong from seven countries including the Philippines, were published in the Official Gazette on Jul 18, as part of cross-border regulations to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The other countries affected previously described by government as “high risk” for Covid-19 are Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan and South Africa.

Aside from testing negative for the virus within the prescribed time before the flight, the worker must also present a certificate that the laboratory that conducted the test was accredited by the government.
Also required is proof of confirmation of a hotel booking in Hong Kong for no less than 14 days, the required period for the mandatory quarantine.

The new restrictions were drawn up in the wake of a number of travelers from the affected countries testing positive for Covid-19 on arrival at Hong Kong Airport.

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