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6 infected OFWs allowed to move in with employers

28 September 2020

By Vir B. Lumicao

Many from the infected batch of new arrivals were confined at United Christian Hospital

Six Filipina helpers in a batch of 10 who tested positive of coronavirus infection after arriving from Manila on Sept 9 have been reportedly been allowed by their employers to move in with them.

Two of the six have already been allowed into their employers’ homes while the rest have been put in hotel quarantine prior to moving in.

Their being allowed to join their employers after recovering in hospital is a virtual turnaround in the saga of the discharged new arrivals.

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Two from the same batch and another discharged from hospital earlier had been removed from Hong Kong by Immigration officials, who said their employers had backed out of their contract because of worries about their Covid-19 infections.

Their removal, however, exposed an apparent irregularity in the procedure, as they were taken to hospitals in Hong Kong without going through the Immigration counters and the visa page in their passports was not stamped to indicate their arrival.

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The expelled workers were also made to sign recognizance papers indicating they were to be removed on the day of their release from the hospitals. 

That procedure raised concerns in the Filipino community because it appeared to indicate that Immigration had decided to make the infected FDHs leave as soon as they got cured, without even consulting their respective employers.

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It also suggested that the 14-day grace period given to terminated workers as a matter of practice had been done away with.

The apparent policy shift prompted Consul General Raly Tejada to seek clarification from the Hong Kong government on the stance of the Immigration Department. 

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The infected helpers came in a group of 13 deployed to Hong Kong by Placewell International Services in Manila after being certified as Covid-19 negative by the Lung Center of the Philippines.

On arrival in Hong Kong, five tested positive at the airport. Three were found infected the next day, and one more two days later.

Tunghayan ang isa na namang Kwentong Dream Love

Meanwhile, two others from the batch are still in hospital, waiting to be moved by their employers to hotels who want them to undergo further quarantine, said an OFW group that is helping the released helpers.

But not all of those who have been discharged from hospital are assured of acceptance by their would-be employers, said the group, Social Justice for Migrant Workers.

All 13 FDHs from the batch were cleared by Lung Center of the Philippines, but 10 tested positive in HK

The group’s founder, Marites Palma, who is also an FDH, has said one of the discharged maids was taken by her employer to a hotel in Causeway Bay for quarantine, but was told her contract would be terminated.

The worker, M.E.B., would be sent home after her 14-day hotel quarantine which would end on Oct 8, according to Palma.

Another from the batch who was discharged from United Christian Hospital was initially also rejected by her employer, but after pleading with her employer to consider all she had gone through just to come here, the employer reportedly changed her mind.

Another member of the group, E.S., was reportedly picked up by her employer and immediately taken to her flat for home quarantine.

Another, J.Q., 33, was discharged from United Christian Hospital on Thursday, Sept 24, and spent a few days in a boarding house. She was fetched by her employer today, Sept 28, and put up in a hotel to rest for a further 12 days before letting her start work.

J.Q. said in a telephone conversation last night that her attending doctor had told her to stay a further 14 days for her employers’ safety.

J.Q.’s work visa expired on Sept 10 while her passport was in Immigration custody at the airport, so her employer had to apply for her visa extension. Immigration stamped on her passport a visa valid until Sept 24, 2022.

Palma said two others from the batch who were moved to a Tsuen Wan hotel for quarantine were also set to join their employers today.

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