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FDHs must test negative before flying to HK, but when and how?

09 July 2020

By Daisy CL Mandap

Many OFWs are worried about where they should have the Covid-19 test before flying to HK

Two days after announcing that because of a recent surge in imported cases, all foreign domestic workers must test negative in their home countries before being allowed to fly in, Hong Kong has yet to set a date on when this new policy will be implemented.

The announcement has caused concern among those set to fly to Hong Kong soon, as they fear they would be turned away from boarding their flights in Manila because they have no paper to show they had tested negative for Covid-19.

Consul General Raly Tejada says he has already reached out to the Hong Kong government to ask for details on the new policy, but has yet to receive a reply.
“Preliminarily, it seems that it’s more of a health measure rather than a labor issue but for us it’s much than that as it may result in added expenses and delays in deployment of our workers,” he said.

He added it is important to know how the new restriction will be carried out, as “more often than not the devil is in the details.”

Among the questions being asked by Hong Kong-bound Filipino workers is where they could have themselves tested, and when they should do it.

Pindutin para sa detalye

While a group of Hong Kong-based employment agencies has claimed to having their recruits get tested before departing Manila, most workers say they do not know of anyone who could administer the test.

They also ask how recent the result should be, as it takes time for laboratories in the Philippines to process each test result. And, even if they succeed in getting themselves tested, whether the test result will meet Hong Kong’s standards.
ConGen Tejada says they have yet to hear from the HK govt on the details of the new health policy

Congen Tejada says the Consulate has also received queries from anxious workers, and they have been advised to just watch out for their advisories on this.
Secretary for Food and Health Dr. Sophia Chan announced the new policy on Jul 7, shortly after government officials met to review Hong Kong’s anti-virus measures.

Earlier that day, health officials disclosed 14 new infections, nine of them local. Of the imported cases, three involved Filipinas who recently arrived from Manila.

Dr Chan said that apart from requiring FDHs to test negative before flying into Hong Kong, they must also spend their mandatory 14-day quarantine in a "designated place" like a hotel, after entry.

All the expenses for the Covid-19 test and the quarantine accommodation will have to be shouldered by the employer.

She gave no other details.

Food and Health Secretary Sophia Chan

The following is a transcript of a media interview on Jul 7 with Secretary for Food and Health Dr. Sophia Chan on why Hong Kong has decided to require all incoming foreign domestic helpers to test negative at their home countries before flying in, and spend their quarantine in hotels:

Reporter: First of all, domestic helpers coming into Hong Kong will be asked to be quarantined at hotels for 14 days. How many hotels have agreed to this as it is summer time, many hotels are offering discount? How has the sector responded to the new decision? Second, air staff and crew ship staff are required to additional testing when they land in Hong Kong. Can you explain a bit more and also why is the burden now being passed onto the countries where they are coming from? The third question, will these new cases, especially with the cases in shipping ports, delay the establishment of the travel bubble and when will we see health code come to light again?

Secretary for Food and Health: The situation is that, first of all, in the recent two weeks, we have cases coming from places, for example, Philippines and Indonesia, are confirmed positive in terms of coronavirus. Another thing is that the flats in Hong Kong are very small. Therefore, in order to let domestic helpers coming to Hong Kong to have effective quarantine, it is important for them to have a place whereby fulfilling the Department of Health's guidelines and requirements. They should have a single room and do not share toilets with others, etc. Therefore, we have discussed that it is important for them to come together to a designated place for quarantine. Hotel will be one of the places that is suitable for this purpose. Secondly, it is also important for the employers to require them to have pre-boarding testing or pre-arrival testing so that we know that they are at least tested negative at the time before they arrive in Hong Kong. Of course, we will continue to test them after they arrive in Hong Kong. That is something that we shall do. 

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