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Another 5.5k Filipino DHs lose jobs amid strict travel restrictions

14 September 2020

By Vir B. Lumicao

More than 15,600 Filipino DHs in HK have either lost their jobs, or cannot return

Filipino domestic helpers in Hong Kong took the worst hit so far from the current coronavirus pandemic last month, when 5,489 lost their jobs in the city.

This took the total decline in the Filipino DH population to 15,675 since the start of the year.

The drastic drop in the numbers appears to be the direct effect of the tightened travel restrictions imposed by the Hong Kong government in late July on travelers from nine countries identified as high-risk, including the Philippines and Indonesia.

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But it could also be due to the continuing economic decline, which has led to thousands of people in Hong Kong, many of them employers, losing their jobs.

Immigration figures show that as of the end of July, there were 209,512 Filipino DHs in Hong Kong. The number fell to 204,023 last month.

Indonesian migrant workers also saw their numbers shrink by 4,425 last month to 157,337, as their government reportedly slowed down the deployment of workers to Hong Kong in view of the pandemic.

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The decline in the FDH numbers could largely be attributed to the Hong Kong government’s admitted policy of limiting the entry of migrant workers into the city as part of efforts to contain the pandemic.

Starting Jul 25, travelers from seven high-risk countries including the Philippines and Indonesia, were required to present a certificate of negative result from a nucleic acid test taken within 72 hours before flying to the city. The requirement was later extended to two more countries.

Apart from this, travelers from these countries also have to present a confirmed booking in a Hong Kong hotel for no less than 14 days for the mandatory quarantine.

The new policy effectively slowed the number of Filipino arrivals to a trickle, as the new restrictions proved daunting to both workers and employers.

The number of FDHs arriving in Hong Kong has dropped drastically because of the travel restrictions


Before this, in late June, Hong Kong’s Secretary for Labour Law Chi-kwong admitted in a press conference that the government wanted to restrict the entry of FDHs during the pandemic.

He was responding to reporters’ queries on why the government did not want to set up quarantine facilities for arriving FDHs, or help employers pay for the cost of putting them up in hotels for the 14-day quarantine.

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From an average of around 500 FDHs arriving daily, Law said the number has gone down to about 30.

Employment agencies say there are around 10,000 Filipino migrant workers who have been waiting for months to get back to Hong Kong. Many of them were stranded by the extended lockdowns in the Philippines, and whose re-entry is now being hampered by the high cost of bringing them back to Hong Kong.

Many employers are said to balk at having to pay between $4,000 and $8,000 for the workers’ hotel quarantine, plus up to $2,000 for the required swab test.

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The problem has been compounded in recent days by the big number of Filipino DHs testing positive at HK airport, despite presenting negative test results before departing from Manila.

This has triggered concern that Hong Kong will not lift its entry restrictions for all arrivals from the Philippines anytime soon.

 

FDH Population in Hong Kong 2020 (HK Immigration Data)

 

As of end of Month/Year

Philippines

Indonesia

India

Other nationalities

Total -- all nationalities

Jan-20

219,728

170,898

4,838

4,657

400,121

Feb-20

217,654

171,291

4,857

4,619

398,421

Mar-20

218,002

170,318

4,818

4,594

397,732

Apr-20

215,061

167,747

4,723

4,493

392,024

May-20

212,855

165,377

4,664

4,446

387,342

Jun-20

211,426

164,528

 

9,052*

385,006

Jul-20

209 512

161 762

4 522

4 379

380 175

Aug-20

204 023

157 337

4 360

4 245

369 965

* Including India                                                                                    


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