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HK now requires all FDHs to test negative for Covid-19 before flying in

07 July 2020

By Daisy CL Mandap

All FDHs must now test negative at their place of origin before being allowed to board a flight to HK

All foreign domestic helpers who fly into Hong Kong must undergo a Covid-19 test before coming to Hong Kong, and they must be negative.

This was disclosed by Secretary for Food and Health, Dr. Sophia Chan, in a talk with press people earlier tonight, Jul 7, after a meeting of government officials to review Hong Kong’s anti-epidemic measures.

The meeting was held as 14 new infections were recorded today, including nine local cases. Of the five other cases which were all imported, three were recent arrivals from the Philippines, presumably domestic workers, and two from Pakistan.
Dr Chan said that apart from requiring FDHs to test negative before flying into Hong Kong, they must also spend their mandatory 14-day quarantine in a hotel after entry.

All the expenses for the Covid-19 test and the quarantine accommodation will have to be shouldered by the employer.

Asked for a comment on the announcement, Consul General said consuls general will be meeting with Chief Secretary tomorrow on the issue. “I can provide details after the said meeting.”
Chan confirmed the meeting, saying that the government will discuss with consulates “in high-risk areas, including Pakistan, Nepal, South Africa, Bangladesh and other places, and require (residents) to return to Hong Kong in an orderly manner to control imported cases.”

Cynthia Abdon-Tellez, general manager of the Mission for Migrant Workers, immediately welcomed the news about the pre-departure virus test, saying: “Dapat lang!” (That’s just right).

“The governments of sending countries should be responsible in making sure that their people are provided with the health services needed in the time of pandemic. Not just for Hong Kong but primarily for their own citizens,” Tellez added.
Officials have rejected calls to put migrant workers in quarantine centers such as this one in Lei Yue Mun

Yesterday, the Mission called on the Hong Kong government to ensure the well-being of arriving migrant workers, saying many are left to fend for themselves while undergoing quarantine.

The Mission also suggested that help be given to employers who can ill-afford the cost of a hotel quarantine. Better, it says, if a quarantine facility is set up by the government for all arriving migrant workers.

This was the same call issued earlier by the Hong Kong Union of Employment Agencies which said that centralized quarantine will protect both the workers and members of the community.

Union chair Thomas Chan said the government’s latest move had been anticipated by his group as early as two weeks ago when they asked employers and their Philippine partners to arrange tests for all their deployed workers.

Employers were asked to pay for the cost of the test, he said.

“At least it reduced the number of infected persons flying into Hong Kong,” said the union head.

Dr Chan’s announcement reflected the government’s position that it will not extend help to employers or FDHs who fly into Hong Kong to take up employment, as it wants to restrict the entry of people into the city to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Chan said tonight that the new measure is in line with Hong Kong’s decision to tighten its border control and quarantine measures after multiple cases of unknown source of infection have emerged in recent days.
Also as part of the new restrictions, crew of cargo and passenger ships that were originally exempted from quarantine must also undergo a virus test before coming into Hong Kong, and the test result must be negative.

Airline crew members who were also previously exempt from the 14-day quarantine and from taking a virus test on arrival, must also now leave saliva samples at the AsiaWord-Expo testing center before leaving the airport.

Also as part of the new measures, Chan said the HA will again suspend visits to non-emergency hospitals, and re-examine the services of various hospitals to free up manpower to cope with the outbreak.

Visits to residential care homes for the elderly will also be suspended.
The more relaxed restriction on religious gatherings may be re-examined due to the spike in local cases
Chan also said the government will review the current rule that allowed up to 50 people to gather in public, and possibly tighten exemptions, such as religious activities and space capacity restrictions.

Recently, churches were allowed to admit up to 80 percent of their normal capacity, while restaurants are now able to take in their usual number of patrons.

Chan also said the government has conducted 365,000 virus tests in Hong Kong so far, which is equivalent to more than 40,000 tests per 1 million people.

But noting the high percentage of asymptomatic patients in the city, the CHP will distribute specimen bottles at residences and workplaces of diagnosed persons.

In addition, the government will subsidize the purchase of medical instruments by the medial schools of two universities, which could provide an additional 1,000 tests.

She also said that Hong Kong has enough quarantine spaces, with the Penny Bay quarantine facility which is expected to be completed by the end of this month, providing room for 700 more people.

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