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PCG to take up issue of compulsory tests, jabs on FDHs with HK

01 May 2021

By Vir B. Lumicao 

CG Tejada (right) met with HK Labour Secretary Law Chi-kwong last year

Consul General Raly Tejada said the Consulate will make “strong representations” on behalf of Filipino domestic workers after the Hong Kong government required them to take Covid-19 tests and get vaccinated before applying for new work visas.

Hong Kong’s twin moves were announced by officials at a press conference earlier on Friday, after a Filipina helper tested positive for the mutated strain of the coronavirus, along with a 10-month-old baby girl under her care.


“We will make strong representations on behalf of our workers,” Consul General Tejada said in reaction to Hong Kong’s announcement.

“But, in the meantime, since this is a mandatory order, we enjoin affected members of the Filipino community to comply to avoid any penalty,” he said.

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Migrant domestic workers groups blasted the order for mandatory testing of all 370,000 FDHs in the city, calling it “outrageous and unacceptable.”

“The measures to make Covid testing and vaccination mandatory to all MDWs is outrageous and unacceptable as it clearly shows the discrimination and stigmatization   faced by migrant workers in Hon Kong,” said a statement issued by Dolores Balladares- Pelaez, spokesperson of the Asian Migrant Coordinating Body.

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“The decision shows that the Hong Kong government unfairly blames MDWs for the spread of the coronavirus and is fanning the negative sentiment against MDWs. This must be stopped and corrected,” Balladares-Pelaez said.

She said the AMCB and advocates will hold a short online press conference to express their outrage and dismay at the new government measure.

AMCB has been at forefront of defending FDH rights amid the pandemic

The panic button was set off after the Filipina helper who lives with her employers in Tower 11 of Caribbean Coast in Tung Chung was found to be carrying the South African strain of the coronavirus.

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The Center for Health Protection said tests on her young ward showed the baby also had the mutated variant, indicating she had been infected by the caregiver.

Just a week ago, another Filipina helper was found infected with the variant, five days after ending her hotel quarantine.

The discovery of the highly infectious strain in the community has led government officials to zero in on FDHs.

From May 1 to 9, all FDHs are required to undergo Covid-19 testing. In future, said Labour Secretary Law Chi-kwong, all FDHs who apply for employment visas will also be required to get vaccinated against the virus.

Members of the Saturday group of the Domestic Workers Group gave mixed reactions to the news, with some saying there is nothing wrong with compulsory testing and vaccination, while others were ambivalent.

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One of them, Maris, favors mandatory testing but is opposed to compulsory vaccination, saying even her employers are against it.

“I’ll wait until it becomes mandatory...I mean no need to panic. When it is declared mandatory then, aw! Of course, we’ll have to follow,” Maris said.

Others don’t see what the fuss is all about, saying both measures will be for the helper’s benefit, especially the vaccination. 

“Nangangarap tayo na babalik tayo sa normal, so we should be part of the solution and not the problem, as long as the offer is free of charge,” said Elizabeth D. Pascual in a comment on The SUN’s Facebook page.

Several others were, however, angry, saying FDHs are being discriminated against. They asked why only FDHs have been singled out for mandatory testing and vaccination, and not their employers and other Hong Kong residents.

Meanwhile, some Filipino residents of Tung Chung said they got worried after learning that the mutant virus was found in someone who lives in a nearby block, forcing the compulsory quarantining of 400 residents of the building.

Wilfred Tan said many Filipinos who work at the airport live in Caribbean Coast. He said they include airline cabin crews, aircraft engineering staff, civil engineers with ongoing construction projects, as well domestic helpers whose employers reside there.

He and his wife Val, a Cathay Pacific flight attendant, live in Block 1 and have friends who live in the infected Block 11. This morning, they received a notice for compulsory testing, and they immediately complied, lining up for some time to have their swab test.

“Can’t (really be sure) kasi everyday po kami dumadaan ng Citygate. Lakad pauwi. Kaya kahit fully vaccinated na kami, nagpa-test pa rin,” said Tan, a court interpreter. He and his wife had their second dose of a vaccine three weeks ago.

Tan said he and his wife are concerned but cannot blame the inconvenience on somebody as catching the virus can happen to anyone.

Another Filipino who lives in Tung Chung is artist Martin Megino, who said said he was worried for the safety of his family.

But they were among the luckier ones. Another Filipino family of six who live in block 11 itself were hastily moved to the government quarantine center in Penny’s Bay as soon as the positive test result on the FDH was known.

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