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Testing sites near-empty on last day of mandatory Covid-19 tests for FDHs

09 May 2021

By Vir B. Lumicao 

Hardly anyone turned up to get tested on Chater Garden

An expected last-minute rush by migrant domestic workers to submit to mandatory Covid-19 tests did not happen at designated mobile testing centers today, May 9, perplexing both workers’ groups and health staff.

By 11 am, the testing centers at Chater Garden and Edinburgh Place in Central and at Victoria Park in Causeway Bay looked deserted as only a few workers were seen going up to the long line of tents for pre-swab registration or testing.


Staff manning the testing site at Edinburgh Place said they opened at 8am but didn’t encounter a deluge of workers going for the test similar to what they faced the previous Sunday, May 2.

A few people came by at the Edinburgh mobile testing site, but many were non-FDHs

The same thing happened at Chater Garden, where the mobile testing van was moved after initially setting up on nearby Chater Road.  

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung said in his blog today that a majority of the helpers had complied with the test order.

Pindutin para sa detalye

He said that as of May 7, the number of those who had been tested had gone up to 280,000 while 50,000 more had booked appointments at CTCs. That meant that only about 40,000 more should have gone for tests during the weekend. 

Given that 52,000 FDWs were recorded to have received tests on May 2 alone, testing the remaining number of people should have been achievable.

The Victoria Park testing station dedicated to FDHs was near-empty

But Dolores Balladares, chair of the United Filipinos in Hong Kong and spokesperson of Asian Migrants Coordinating Body, said this did not explain the very poor turnout on the last day of mandatory testing.

“The low turnout is worrying because, if we go by the government’s estimate that more than 200,000 domestic workers have already been tested and about 100,000 have booked online, then we should be expecting about 50,000 today,” said Balladares.


She said her group is concerned because those who failed to beat the deadline could be issued with a fixed penalty ticket costing $5,000 each.

Even if employers are obliged to pay the fine, any friction that could arise because of this could result in the worker shelling out the money just to keep her job, she said.

Balladares says AMCB remains opposed to mandatory tests and jabs

A possibility that Balladares did not discount was that some workers had opted to collect a sample bottle from the MTR or the post office and submitted their specimen during the weekend at collection stations in anticipation of the rush.

A number would have also been exempted from the test order because they had been fully vaccinated, meaning they had their second dose of the Covid vaccine on or before Apr 25.

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The migrant support group had solicited donations from various individuals and groups which they used to buy bottles of water and biscuits, in anticipation of the thousands of workers who they thought would line up at the testing centers.

The previous Sunday and several days afterwards, hundreds of FDWs had queued up for hours outside testing stations in a bid to beat the deadline for the compulsory tests.

Cartons of bottled water were given away to bystanders at end of the day

Balladares said 94 boxes of bottled water were bought from donations and stacked on Chater Road and distributed in Edinburgh Place, Tamar Park  and Victoria Park “to give a little comfort from the heat of the sun or rain” to the expected crowd.

But by early afternoon there were hardly any workers waiting to get tested that the bottled water meant for the testing applicants ended up being given away to people hanging out in surrounding areas.

Tunghayan ang isa na namang kwentong Dream Love.

AMCB also set up tables on Chater Road to provide information and free blood pressure readings while some volunteers went around handing out leaflets and water, and reminded workers that it was the last day for the tests.

Balladares said the AMCB maintains its opposition to mandatory testing and vaccination for the migrant domestic workers because the policy targets the workers as a community group whereas everyone in Hong Kong is equally exposed to the virus.


She said the group still wants a public apology from Labor Secretary Law Chi-kwong for discriminating against the migrant domestic workers by proposing compulsory jabs for them.

Earlier today, the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions called a press conference to announce their opposition to mandatory testing and vaccination of migrant domestic workers, said Balladares, who was invited to the meeting along with other workers’ group leaders.

She said the HKCTU instead advocated mandatory testing and vaccination for all migrants in Hong Kong, including the thousands of asylum-seekers who are not covered by the policy and could not afford to pay for their own testing and jobs.

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