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Phl 'very close' to getting its vaccination records accepted by HK

18 August 2021

By Daisy CL Mandap 

Will the 4-month wait for Hong Kong-bound Filipinos be over soon?

There could be light at the end of the tunnel soon for thousands of vaccinated Filipino residents (and migrant workers) who have been unable to enter Hong Kong because their vaccination records issued in the Philippines are not being accepted for entry here.

Consul General Raly Tejada said today, Aug 18, that the Philippines is “very close” to reaching an agreement with Hong Kong in getting the country’s vaccination records accepted for entry into the city.


But ConGen Tejada did not give further details. “That is all I can say for now,” he said. "We are working hard (to strike a deal).”

He made his response after Hong Kong tightened entry rules for travelers starting Friday, requiring them to spend no less than 14 days in hotel quarantine. Only those coming from New Zealand, classified as “low risk”, qualify for a seven-day quarantine if vaccinated.

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But in announcing the new restrictions, the Hong Kong government added to its list of recognized vaccination records those issued by “a recognized institution of a country with bilateral vaccination record recognition agreement” with the city.

This raised hopes that the Philippines could soon have its vaccination records recognized by Hong Kong through a bilateral agreement.


Tejada had said earlier that Hong Kong was open to the idea of recognizing the yellow-colored international vaccination certificate being issued in the Philippines as specified by the World Health Organization.

He said Hong Kong found the so-called yellow card acceptable as long it contains important information such as the holder’s passport information and their full vaccination details. In addition the information in the cards must be verifiable and easily validated by concerned authorities.

The yellow card may hold the key to HK's gates for stranded Filipinos

Previously, Hong Kong only accepted vaccination records issued locally, in the mainland or Macau, and those issued in countries with a “stringent regulatory authority” as classified by the WHO.

The earlier vaccination records issued by local government units in the Philippines authorized to administer vaccines did not qualify for recognition in Hong Kong because they came in different formats and could not be verified against a central data base.


The BOQ tried to resolve the problem by coming up with the WHO-specified yellow card which has since been accepted by many countries where Filipino migrants work.

Vaccination records issued by Hong Kong, on the other hand, allow those traveling to the Philippines to spend only seven days in hotel quarantine, as the city is classified as a “green” place for Covid-19.

Since April 20, the Philippines has been designated by Hong Kong as high risk, and as such, all passenger flights from the country have been banned.

New quarantine rules simplified (SCMP graph)

But starting Aug 9, the flight ban was lifted for all vaccinated residents coming from high-risk or category A places, but their vaccination records must be recognized by Hong Kong

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This lack of recognition for their vaccination certificates resulted in most travelers coming from high-risk countries like the Philippines, Indonesia, India and Pakistan, from entering Hong Kong.

They include an estimated 3,000 migrant workers with employment visas who have been stuck in the sending countries for the past four months.

Only vaccinated residents from 'high-risk' places are allowed to enter HK

Meanwhile, under Hong Kong’s tightened restrictions which take effect Friday, 15 countries were added to the high-risk group, making a total of 24 places so far.

These are: Bangladesh, Brazil, Cambodia, France, Greece, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Malaysia, Nepal, the Netherlands, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

Only vaccinated residents (including those holding work visas) traveling from these places with recognized vaccination records will be allowed to enter Hong Kong, and they will have to spend 21 days in hotel quarantine without exemption.

Travelers from these places will have to take two more tests during their quarantine period – or six tests in total. They will also be asked to self-monitor for a week after quarantine, and to take another test on the 26th day after arrival at one of the city’s community testing centres.

Those coming from places designated as medium risk, which will now include Australia, could come in even without vaccination, but will have to quarantine for 21 days. They will also be tested six times during their isolation.

Fully vaccinated travelers from these countries will still be quarantined for two weeks, but will now be tested four times, followed by seven days of self-monitoring and two more tests on the 16th and 19th day after arrival.

Unlike before, vaccinated travelers from these places will no longer be able to shorten their quarantine period to just seven days even if they tested positive for antibodies.
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