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HK halts mandatory vaccination for FDHs

04 May 2021

By Daisy CL Mandap


CE Lam says the mandatory jabs for FDHs was just a plan (RTHK photo)

Chief Executive Carrie Lam has effectively put a stop to the mandatory vaccination of all 370,000 foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong, first announced by her labor secretary on Apr 30.

Speaking before the start of an Executive Council meeting today, May 4, the top official said the government had not actually made up its mind on whether to go ahead with the plan to require all FDHs applying for new work visas to show proof of inoculation.

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She said the plan's justifications and feasibility were still being studied by the Labour and Welfare Bureau. As part of this, consuls general of countries that send FDHs to Hong Kong will be consulted on "whether this could be done, and whether doing it would create many problems."

Her statement came after various groups slammed the order as discriminatory, as it targeted only FDHs.

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 Philippine Consul General Raly Tejada was quick to welcome the announcement.

"We thank CE Lam ang the HK government for their understanding and magnanimity. We stand ready to work and engage with the HK government and other concerned Consulates General in constructive dialogue on this important issue," Congen Tejada said.

"In the meantine, the PCG will continue to encourage our nationals to avail of HK's free and voluntary vaccination program."

The Consulate had earlier said it was not consulted on the mandatory vaccination plan. CG Tejada also questioned why other non-residents who are on employment visas were not subjected to the same order when they have the same residency status as FDHs. 


The Chief Executive, however, defended the order for all FDHs to undergo testing between May 1 and 9, insisting it was not discriminatory.

“Among four cases of Covid variants that have spread into the community, two involve foreign domestic workers,” she said.

Hundreds of FDHs lined up for hours to get tested on Chater Road on Sunday

“In addition, foreign domestic workers do have a habit of attending gatherings at weekends, and their work involves close contact with and taking care of young children and elderly people, so proper measures have to be taken considering our risk assessment.”

She added that compulsory testing for groups deemed “high risk” has been going on for months, including care home workers who are required to get tested every two weeks.

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Yesterday, the Asian Migrants Coordinating Body submitted a formal complaint to the Equal Opportunities Commission, saying the mandatory testing and vaccination orders exposed FDHs to more vilification and stigmatization.

But in a subsequent radio interview, EOC Chairman Ricky Chu said mandatory testing of all FDHs, like all other anti-epidemic measures, was not discriminatory as it was "reasonable and necessary" even if it caused differential treatment.

He said a measure may be considered discriminatory if it targets a specific race, but in this case, the measures only targeted a specific profession.

Chu said that even the vaccination itself could be considered as causing differential treatment. But because of the pandemic, "it is extremely difficult to come up with a measure that is not differential."

The mandatory testing order had caused FDHs to line up by the hundreds on May 1 and 2, when most were on holiday, at community testing centers and mobile specimen collection stations across the city.

Latest figures from the government showed that more than 120,000 FDHs had received testing for Covid-19 on these two days alone.
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