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FDHs about to move in with new employers urged to get free Covid-19 test

23 August 2020

By The SUN
 
Even those in shelters not run by agencies are encouraged to take the test
Starting tomorrow, all foreign domestic helpers whose previous employment contracts have expired or terminated and are waiting to move into their new employer’s home, may make an appointment for a free Covid-19 test.

A statement posted on the government website today, Aug 23, said the Labour Department will take charge of the registration, which is voluntary and free of charge.

However, it is likely employers will make the test a requirement for the new FDHs about to move into their households, as the LD statement came with an appeal to employers to ensure their new helper gets tested before moving in.


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The LD’s press release said eligible FDHs should register for an appointment by telephone, and provide their specimens at a specific time slot at Harbour Road Sports Centre in Wanchai, the designated temporary specimen collection center.

The move comes in the wake of the free tests offered to all FDHs staying in boarding houses of employment agencies starting Aug 9, after a series of infections were detected in some of these temporary housing facilities.


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It is estimated as many as 6,000 FDHs are staying in boarding houses or agency-run dormitories while waiting for their new employment visas to be issued by the Immigration Department.

But Labour Secretary Law Chi-kwong said on Friday that only about 1,800 FDHs availed of the free tests, and only one positive case was found.


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Realizing that many more FDHs who are in-between jobs are staying in boarding houses not connected to agencies, the LD said the government decided to expand the testing service to cover all those who are about to move in with their employers’ families.

"We strongly encourage FDHs staying in boarding facilities to actively participate in the free test to safeguard their health,” said the statement.


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“Participants will be notified of the test results via SMS in about two to three days after collection of specimen, and positive cases will be referred to the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health for follow-up. If an FDH needs to stay in a boarding facility for an extended period of time while waiting to change employer, he/she may re-take the test as appropriate, especially before joining the new employer's family.”

The department called on the agencies for help in convincing qualified FDHs to register and take the test.

“We also advise employers to check that their new FDHs have a valid negative test result before joining the family,” said the statement.
 
Employers are advised to get their new FDHs tested before allowing them to move in
FDHs who are currently employed are also encouraged to have themselves tested through the Universal Community Testing Programme to be launched by the Government on Sept. 1.

The specimen collection center for FDHs staying in shelters is located at Harbour Road Sports Centre, 27 Harbour Road, Wan Chai. The centre will commence service on August 25, opening daily from 8.30am to 8pm, and will operate until September 30.




Eligible FDHs will be given a free combined nasal and throat swab testing service. To avail of this, FDHs may dial the registration hotline 1836 133 starting from tomorrow, Aug 24, 9am to 9pm daily, to make an appointment for specimen collection on Aug 25 or later. 

Same-day appointment will not be offered by the registration hotline, and any request without prior appointment will not be accepted.

Duty officers of the telephone booking service center will register the name, Hong Kong Identity Card number and/or passport number and mobile telephone number of the FDH.

To determine their eligibility, the FDHs will be asked for additional information, such as the reference number and limit of stay as shown on the latest visa issued to them by the Immigration Department, or the reference number/date of application for a visa/extension of stay as a visitor.

FDHs who wish to make an appointment are advised to prepare the relevant documents beforehand for a smooth registration. Upon successful registration, an SMS to confirm the date, time and location to conduct the collection of specimen will be sent to the FDH.

On the appointed date and time, the FDH will be asked for her/his Hong Kong ID card, passport and the SMS appointment confirmation to verify their identity. He/she will be asked to sign a consent form and confirm his/her eligibility for the testing service.

Participants will be notified of the test results (whether positive or negative) via SMS. All positive results will be made known to the LD which is the only agency with access to the patient’s identity. LD will then refer the case to the Centre for Health Protection for follow-up and treatment.

All enquiries may be sent to the LD by email at fdh-enquiry@labour.gov.hk


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