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Labour chief sidesteps call for mandatory Covid-19 tests for FDHs

20 January 2021

By Daisy CL Mandap 

Law says making FDHs submit to regular testing needs to be justified (File photo)

Secretary for Labour Law Chi-kwong has again deflected suggestions from a legislator to tighten anti-epidemic regulations targeting foreign domestic helpers, including making them submit to regular tests for Covid-19.

In his written reply to questions raised by Wong Kwok-kin in the Legislative Council session, a copy of which was released in the government news portal today, Jan. 20, Law said such a move needs to be studied carefully.

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“As to the suggestion to mandate FDHs to receive testing regularly, the Government has to carefully consider the justifications for implementing targeted mandatory measures, including objective justifications such as the development of the pandemic, infection cases, risk management, effective use of resources, etc. and to undertake detailed analysis. The Government will closely monitor the situation and examine and implement effective anti-epidemic measures, Law said. 

He also said FDHs have responded well to offers of free testing offered by the government since December last year.

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"From December 18, 2020 to January 10, 2021, more than 25 000 FDHs received free testing at community testing centres, of which seven samples were found to be positive and had been referred to the Centre for Health Protection for confirmatory tests and follow-up,” said Law.

Apart from this, more than 9,000 FDHs reportedly availed of the government’s offer of one-off Covid-19 testing for all those staying in boarding facilities of employment agencies. 


“The testing figures above show that quite a number of FDHs have received testing voluntarily. Also, it is understood that some employers would arrange FDHs to receive testing at private organisations on their own,” said Law in his response.

Alongside the targeted voluntary testing for FDHs, the latest of which is due to end on Jan 31, the government has reportedly tightened enforcement of gathering rules and mask-wearing in public.


Responding to Wong’s request for statistics, Law submitted a table showing the number of fixed penalty notices, each costing $5,000, issued by law enforcers who staked out known FDH haunts across the city for the past several weekends.

Wong asked for figures on the number of fixed penalty tickets issued to FDHS

As of Jan 10, a total of 81 FDHs were reportedly issued penalty tickets by the police and officers of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) for violating Cap. 599G, which allows only two people to gather in public.

A further 18 FDHs were slapped with the hefty fine for not wearing a face mask in a public place, in contravention of Cap 599I.


The penalty notices were issued in various places, from parks and gardens, to footbridges and pedestrian walkways, as well as hiking trails.

In another response to Wong’s questions, Law ruled out banning the use of tents by FDWs in public places during Sunday.

Wong’s question was ‘whether it (the government) will consider prohibiting any person from setting up tents in public places during the epidemic, so as to discourage FDHs from gathering and sharing meals in public places during weekends and holidays, thereby reducing the risks of the epidemic spreading; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that..”

The legislator also wants a ban on the use of tents in public places 

Law’s response was that the LCSD allows users of its parks and other venues “to use some light appliances for shade which are smaller in size and do not need to be specially constructed” as long as it’s done during the daytime.

In addition, they should observe social distancing rules and wear masks while using LCSD’s parks.


Law cited statistics to back up his claim during an earlier question and answer session in LegCo with another legislator that the rate of infection among FDHs is far lower than that of the general public.

Law said that as of Jan 17, there were 265 confirmed Covid-19 cases among FDHs who recently arrived in Hong Kong, and 245 cases involving those who were already here.

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The total infection rate among them is just 0.05 percent of Hong Kong’s updated Covid-19 tally of 9,798 cases.

Law used the same argument when he slammed a proposal by legislator Elizabeth Quat on Jan 13 for a weekend lockdown on FDHs.

The labour chief said there “is no good reason” to target FDHs for a lockdown”. Besides, such a move could amount to discrimination.


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