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Covid-19 pre-testing for FDHs now a law, but no details yet

15 July 2020

By Daisy CL Mandap

Filipino domestic workers will be required to test negative in Manila before flying to HK

The Hong Kong government has formally announced that foreign domestic helpers from the Philippines and Indonesia, as well as travelers from what it calls “high-risk” places, must show a negative result for Covid-19 test before being allowed to fly in.

Among the places identified as “high-risk” in a press release issued by the government today, Jul 14, are Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal and South Africa.

Also to be required to show a negative test result are crew of airlines and ships, who are exempted from the mandatory 14-day quarantine, but were only recently required to undergo testing on arrival at the borders.

However, it is still unclear if the list is inclusive, or when the regulation will take effect, or which particular agencies are allowed to issue the negative test certificate. 

The statement merely states that the clearance must come from a "recognized laboratory". It also says that the Secretary for Food and Health “will issue directions on the above matters in due course.”

According to the statement, the pre-testing of certain travelers is being required because of the big number of imported cases recorded lately. Between Jul 7 and 13 alone, 55 imported cases were recorded.
All new arrivals from Pakistan must also show a negative test result before being allowed entry 
“The sources of these cases are mainly arrivals from places with high risk of Covid-19,  such as Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal and South Africa, as well as foreign domestic helpers from the Philippines and Indonesia,” said the statement.
To prevent imported cases, the statement said there is a need to impose conditions on travelers coming to Hong Kong “to reduce the health risk they may bring.

These conditions may include restrictions that are based on the travelers’ originating place, such as those deemed “high risk,” or based on their job or occupation, such as airline or ship crew, or domestic helpers.

Yesterday, Chief Executive Carrie Lam also formally announced that all FDHs will now have to quarantine in a hotel, instead of their employers' home.

Apart from the negative result certificate, the government may also require the operator of the aircraft or vessel to provide information that may include the health information of the travelers on board.
The passengers, in turn, may be required to provide information about their health condition, travel history, as well as the Covid-19 test result.

If any of the specified conditions is not met in relation to any traveler, a health officer may prohibit the aircraft or vessel from landing or entering Hong Kong.

In addition, the operator of the conveyance may be charged, and upon conviction, pay a penalty of up to $50,000 and imprisonment for six months.

As for travelers, those who knowingly or recklessly provide information that is false or misleading may, on conviction, be fined up to $10,000 and imprisoned for six months.

The new regulations are contained in the Prevention and Control of Disease (Regulation of Cross-boundary Conveyances and Travellers) Regulation (Cap. 599H) which takes effect on Wednesday, Jul 15, with the  implementing guidelines to be issued subsequently.

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