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PCG asks HK to clarify stance on OFW Covid patients as 3rd to be sent home

24 September 2020

By Vir B. Lumicao

Congen Tejada is asking HK to explain why the positive OFWs are now all being sent home

The Philippine Consulate is seeking clarification from the Hong Kong government about the Immigration Department’s removal of two newly arrived Filipino domestic workers who had tested positive for coronavirus inspection.

This comes as a  third newly arrived Filipina helper, C.A., was reportedly told by her Hong Kong agent this evening, Sept 24, that she would be sent home after her release from hospital. The reason she got was the same as in the first two cases: their employers had reportedly backed out.

C.A. and the second to be removed, E.G.S., were both part of a batch of 13 helpers who arrived on Sept 9. Ten of them have been found infected so far. Five tested positive on arrival, three the next day, and another one after a few days.

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The latest to be told she would be sent home, C.A., said her doctor at Princess Margaret Hospital in Kwai Chung told her she should be released today but her visa had expired so she could not leave the hospital.

Consul General Raly Tejada has expressed concern about the apparent policy shift in the Hong Kong government's stance towards newly arrived Filipino domestic helpers who test positive for Covid-19.

“We are urging the Hong Kong government to clarify their stance so that we know what exactly is happening,” Congen Tejada said today, Sept 24, in response to an enquiry by The SUN.

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“We have contacted the HK Immigration early this week to get clarity about this new unpronounced policy,” ConGen Tejada added.

Deno's employment visa was not stamped, suggesting she never entered HK

Immigration authorities sent home a newly arrived Filipina helper, Ermelyn Deno, early morning last Saturday after she was discharged hours earlier by doctors at Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital.

Then yesterday, Sept 23, they sent home E.G.S from the Sept 9 flight, four days after she was released from Princess Margaret Hospital. The third, C.A., is still waiting for word on when she would be picked up from the hospital and sent home.

ConGen Tejada said Immigration’s standard reply when asked about the two removals was that the employer had backed out on both occasions, rendering the workers jobless.

This was the same reason given to The SUN which made direct inquiries with Immigration, after learning about Deno’s case. Two staff members said there is no policy for removing all newly arrived FDHs who test positive, but in Deno’s case it was her employer who backed out of their contract.

ConGen said he expressed concern about the apparent policy shift, but the Immigration authorities said in response that they would meet with other concerned agencies first, like the Health Department, before making a definitive comment.


ConGen Tejada said the Consulate has reported the matter to both the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Labor and Employment in Manila

On the other hand, he said Hong Kong has not raised issue with the big number of Filipino domestic workers who test positive on arrival despite presenting a negative result for Covid-19 before departing Manila.

Hong Kong has not made any formal complaints to our government,” the top Filipino government official here said.

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“They already put us on a watchlist of high risk countries and put additional measures to ensure that our workers are Covid-free before arriving in Hong Kong such as mandatory Covid test 72 hours before leaving the country and 14 days hotel booking for the mandatory quarantine,” he said.

E.G.S., the second removal case in four days, said that like Deno, she and the 12 others from her batch who were deployed by the same agency in Manila, were sent to the Lung Center of the Philippines for their swab test on Sept 7.

E.G.S's negative test result. All 3 infected OFWs were cleared by the Lung Center

They all received their negative test results at the airport on the evening of Sept 8, which took just over 24 hours. E.G.S. said she paid Php5,980 for the test.

The first two cases were brought to The SUN’s attention by Marites Palma, founder of the Social Justice for Migrant Workers. Palma, who is also a contributor to The SUN, said she immediately informed the Philippine Overseas Labor Office and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration about Deno’s case.

But Labor Attaché Melchor Dizon, who heads Polo, has so far remained silent on the two removal cases.

Deno was quietly taken by Immigration to the airport, straight from her release from Eastern Hospital on Saturday morning, Sept 19. She arrived on Sept. 12 and sent to the hospital the next day after testing positive. 

Before being taken to the hospital, she was made to sign a recognizance paper with instructions to go straight to the airport for her flight home after her release.

However, Immigration staff told The SUN Deno was removed because she had no right to remain in Hong Kong after her prospective employer backed out due to her infection.    

For E.G.S., this would have been her first stint in Hong Kong after working for eight years in Singapore. She said she was recruited by Placewell International Services Corp in Manila, which charged her Php45,000 for the Hong Kong job.

E.G.S. said she was shocked when a female staff of her agency here, Golden Full (HK) Ltd, told her on Sept 20 that her employer had cancelled her contract and she would be sent home.

She said the agency staff told her it was Immigration policy for incoming foreign helpers who test positive for Covid-19 upon arrival. The owner of Golden Full, which recruited her, reiterated this in a message to E.G.S.

“This is law of HK. You must go home immediately after discharge from hospital,” the agency owner said in a message.

He and his staff told E.G.S. her employer backed out because she has a four-month-old baby who could be put at risk because of the maid's infection.

The Immigration officer who asked E.G.S. to sign some documents before her departure reportedly gave the same answer when she asked why she was being sent home.

She was discharged the next day and moved to a quarantine center where she was told to wait for her flight to Manila. The agency bought her an air ticket and on the evening of Sept 22, she was driven to the airport. She left early the next day via Hong Kong Airlines.

An Immigration officer gave back her passport, its visa page unstamped, after E.G.S.  signed some documents the contents of which she said could no longer remember.

To compound her woes, E.G.S. was handed a luggage which, she found to her dismay on arrival in Manila, belonged to another Filipina Covid patient. 


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