An infectious disease expert has urged the government to conduct mass testing for the coronavirus on thousands of foreign domestic helpers staying in boarding houses in the city.
Dr Ho Pak-leung from the University of Hong Kong made the call after an Indonesian domestic helper who stayed at two boarding homes – in Wan Chai and Causeway Bay – last month, was confirmed with Covid-19.
Ho said authorities should not underestimate the risk of having clusters of infections at crowded boarding houses, after seeing Singapore’s Covid-19 outbreak in its foreign worker population.
He said officials must act quickly and test up to 7,000 foreign domestic helpers living in hundreds of boarding homes in Hong Kong. He believed it could be done within a day if authorities had the determination to do so.
Health authorities had said on Tuesday the woman who caught Covid-19 had stayed at the Wan Chai boarding house for two days with 28 others who were waiting to join their employers. Efforts are now on to trace these domestic helpers.
Singapore witnessed an explosive growth in Covid-19 cases in May after clusters developed in crowded dormitories for migrant workers, where thousands of people shared cramped living spaces. Like Hong Kong, the city-state had tackled the initial waves of coronavirus cases in a comparatively successful manner.
Singapore has now recorded more than 53,000 Covid-19 cases, mainly from dormitories in which around 300,000 workers from Bangladesh, India and China are housed.
Authorities have said they expect to lift quarantines on all dormitories this month, with the exception of some blocks serving as quarantine zones, and that 89 percent of workers have either recovered or are virus-free. (Additional reporting by Reuters)
Expert urges mass tests in maid boarding houses
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