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Flight ban blocks some 3k HK-bound Filipino helpers, says agency group

28 May 2021

By Vir B. Lumicao 

HK's flight ban has stranded about 3k Filipino workers in Manila, says agency group

About 3,000 Hong Kong-bound Filipino helpers are stranded in Manila due to the flight ban imposed by the SAR on the Philippines, an employment agency group claims.

The Hong Kong Union of Employment Agencies, whose members recruit and deploy helpers from the Philippines, said the flight ban that the SAR imposed starting on Apr 20 has caused a lot of problems for both workers and employers.



The group is so alarmed by the situation that it called on the government to donate coronavirus vaccines to the Philippines and Indonesia, so they could inoculate their Hong Kong-bound domestic workers.

It is also urging the government to exempt from the flight ban Filipino workers with visas so they could come and start working for their Hong Kong employers.

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At least one health expert has suggested donating some two million doses of Covid vaccines that Hong Kong has stockpiled and are due to expire soon, to countries that are in short supply.

However, when the idea was first broached to health authorities, they said transporting the vaccines, especially those from BioNTech which require extremely low temperatures for storage, could create a problem.

The agencies urge HK to donate its excess vaccines to FDH-sending countries

The full impact of the flight ban may only be known when the Immigration Department releases its FDH population statistics for May, which should reflect the cessation of worker arrivals from Manila, plus the number of visa rejections for those already here.


As of Apr 30, statistics from the Immigration Department showed a drop of 298 in the number of Filipino helpers in Hong Kong from the March level, while the Indonesian helper population fell by 206.

However, the HKUEA claims a further 2,000 FDHs were denied visas on suspicion of being ‘job hoppers’ since mid-April this year alone.

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The HKUEA said the entry curb and visa rejections have further worsened the domestic helper supply situation, yet the government has not responded to its earlier call this month to address the problem.

Group chair Thomas Chan said that all they have received from the government was an acknowledgment from “low ranking officers” of the Labour Department that Chief Executive Carrie Lam had received their message, and would reply.

Pindutin para sa detalye

However, they have yet to receive a reply, Chan said.

“As what we put in our position paper, almost 5,000 workers lost the chance to work in HK and more employers lost the confidence to hire workers from the Philippines, given uncertain situations ahead,” Chan told The SUN.

Hong Kong announced a flight ban on India, Pakistan and the Philippines in the first hours of Apr 19, just a day before the travel restriction was to take effect. Nepal was added to the list a few days later.

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This followed the announcement that the mutated N501Y variant had spread in the community for the first time through an Indian returnee from Dubai, who it later turned out, had acquired it during his hotel quarantine.

However, government health records show that the biggest sources of the coronavirus variant found in Hong Kong were new arrivals from the Philippines, India and Pakistan.

HKUEA members at a press conference (File)

Chan said his association welcomes the Hong Kong government’s intention to fight and control the disease and is willing to cooperate at best.

“However, we are disappointed (by) the government’s inactive response. We have had meetings with the consuls general of related countries and they have also welcomed our initiative,” he said.

“We hereby strongly request the government to donate vaccines, given some of them are going to expire soon. And we are also willing to cooperate with Philippine partners to best control the flow of domestic helpers to Hong Kong,” Chan said.


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