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5 FDHs on same flight test positive at HK Airport, another during 2nd test

11 September 2020

By Daisy C L Mandap 

5 of the new FDH cases flew in together from Manila on Sept 9

Five Filipina domestic workers who recently flew in from Manila ago have all tested positive for Covid-19 on arrival at Hong Kong Airport, and were among 12 new cases reported today, Sept 11.

A sixth Filipina DH who tested positive on her second test while under quarantine was also among the new cases. She arrived via Hong Kong Airlines Flight HX 782 on Aug 19.

According to Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan of the Centre for Health Protection, the five newly arrived helpers flew in together on Sept 9, also aboard Hong Kong Airlines.

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Dr Chuang said they were part of a group of 13 workers who took the same flight, and were deployed by just one employment agency which she did not name.

The infected FDHs were immediately taken to hospitals for isolation and treatment while the others in their group were put in quarantine centers.

She said the workers stayed together in the agency’s dormitory in Manila before taking their flight to Hong Kong, so it was likely they were infected during that time.

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There were three other imported cases. One was a resident returning from Bulgaria, another a seafarer from Nepal, and the third, a cargo plane pilot from the United States.

Of the three locally acquired infections, one was linked to a five-year-old boy who tested positive earlier, while two were from unknown sources, and were uncovered from the universal community testing.

Cynthia Tellez of the Mission for Migrant Workers called on the Philippine Consulate to immediately check on the condition of the FDHs, since most, if not all, of them are probably newcomers who may not know who to approach for help in the community.

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Kailangan mas maging pro-active naman ang Konsulado dahil kawawa ang mga migrant worker. Sigurado, maraming paghahanda ang ginawa nila para lang makarating dito, tapos biglang ganyan ang nangyari sa kanila,” Tellez said.

(The Consulate needs to be more proactive in helping the vulnerable workers. Am sure they prepared for a long time before coming here, and it’s unfortunate that they now have to deal with this problem).

Tellez also said the agency that deployed them should be investigated to find out why so many of its recruits tested positive on arrival, when they should have presented a negative test result before being allowed to board their flights to Hong Kong.

Tellez says Polo should investigate the agency that deployed the sick workers 


Noon pa naman namin sinasabi na tungkulin ng ating pamahalaan na tiyaking malusog ang ating mga manggagawa bago sila payagang lumabas ng bansa,” said Tellez, “bago pa na require yung negative rest result na yan.

(We’ve always said that our government has the responsibility to ensure that our workers are healthy before they are allowed to work abroad, even before the negative test result was made a requirement).

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After they’re treated and discharged, she said the Consulate, through the Philippine Overseas Labor Office, should provide a place for the workers to stay so they can get fully rested before moving in with their employers.

But that’s assuming that their employers will still want to take the workers in after they get treated and discharged from hospital. In at least one case referred to them, Tellez said the infected worker was sacked upon discharge.

In such a case, she said the recovered worker should be given help in pursuing a claim against the employer, particularly under the Disability Discrimination Ordinance.

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Thomas Chan, head of the Hong Kong Union of Employment Agencies, also called on the Consulate to conduct an inquiry, saying the big number of Filipino DHs who were found infected on arrival is a cause for concern, especially among employers.

He said in particular, the Consulate should determine the source of the workers’ infection, whether they were properly tested in Manila, and if not, who was responsible for the malpractice.

The concern is heightened by the tight travel restrictions imposed by the Hong Kong government starting Jul 25 on all incoming travelers flying in from nine high-risk countries, which include the Philippines.

Among the requirements is that the traveler should present a negative result for a Covid-19 test which should have been taken no later than 72 hours before the scheduled flight to Hong Kong.

The test should have been carried out by a laboratory accredited by the Philippine government, and a certificate attesting to this should also be presented before boarding.

Despite this, a number of travelers  from the Philippines have tested positive upon arrival at Hong Kong Airport, while several were found infected during a second test prior to being released from their 14-day quarantine.

But these cases are not unique to arrivals from Manila, which only ranks fourth as the source of imported cases in Hong Kong.

Recently, the biggest number of infections being brought in has come from India, despite it being among the countries for which a pre-boarding negative test result is required.

In a single Air India flight on Aug 14, about 20 passengers were found infected, which prompted the Hong Kong government to impose a two-week ban on the airline.

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