'Mass tests may not prevent dormitory outbreaks' - RTHK
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'Mass tests may not prevent dormitory outbreaks'

2020-08-07 HKT 11:18
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  • 'Mass tests may not prevent dormitory outbreaks'
An organiser with the Hong Kong Federation of Asian Domestic Workers Unions, Shek Pui-yin, on Friday welcomed the government's plan to test helpers who were staying in agency-arranged boarding facilities, but warned the risk of an outbreak remained in such places due to overcrowding.

The government overnight announced mass testing in such places after health authorities reported that a second helper staying in a boarding house had come down with Covid-19. A similar case was revealed by the Centre for Health Protection on Wednesday.

Speaking on RTHK’s Millennium programme, Shek said a place in a dormitory only costs about HK$50 to HK$80 per day, which is more affordable than hotels. So a large number of foreign domestic helpers choose to live in such dormitories as they wait for new jobs or switch employers.

She said the government should look at providing alternate accommodation for them, or the risk of further outbreaks will continue.

Health experts have also pointed out that some of these places are overcrowded and have limited toilet facilities, making it difficult to maintain hygiene.

The Centre for Health Protection on Wednesday reported that one of the Covid-19 patients, a helper from Indonesia, had shared such a facility in Wan Chai with 28 others.