'Delayed arrival of helpers a relief for many' - RTHK
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'Delayed arrival of helpers a relief for many'

2021-04-19 HKT 14:05
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  • An employers group says people are worried about migrant workers bringing mutated strains of the coronavirus into Hong Kong. File photo: RTHK
    An employers group says people are worried about migrant workers bringing mutated strains of the coronavirus into Hong Kong. File photo: RTHK
Damon Pang reports
The Hong Kong Employers of Overseas Domestic Helpers Association says the government's two-week ban on arrivals from the Philippines has come as a relief to many people who are concerned about the Covid-19 situation in the country.

The discovery of a mutant strain of the virus in the community in Hong Kong has led to the SAR government banning flights from the Philippines, India and Pakistan. The government says multiple arrivals from the three countries have also had the same mutated form of the virus.

The association's chair, Betty Yung, said some employers will be happy to push back the arrival of helpers from the Philippines, without the need to terminate their contracts.

"They can't stop the contracts because they've signed them already.... [The employers] would rather have the maids come later, when the situation in the Philippines get better," she told RTHK.

Yung said these employers noted that a patient in the SAR with the mutant strain had tested negative for coronavirus during a 21-day quarantine period and they feared this could also happen with their helpers.

She said employers should be prepared for the two-week arrivals ban to be extended.

The chair of the Hong Kong Union of Employment Agencies, Thomas Chan, said at least a thousand migrant workers from the Philippines have already been affected by the ban.

He said his union has proposed to the SAR government that it should donate vaccines to Filipino helpers on their way to Hong Kong, but it has received no response from officials.

However, a spokesman for the Asian Migrants Coordinating Body, Eman Villanueva, said it isn't realistic to suggest that helpers must be vaccinated before coming to the territory.

"Vaccination should not be made mandatory. It has to be voluntary, it has to be an informed decision of the person involved, whether a migrant worker or anyone," he said.

Villanueva said the vaccination rollout in his home country has been slow because there are not enough jabs to go around.

He said it was understandable for the Hong Kong government to ban flights from countries deemed to be high-risk, saying it has to take steps to protect the local population from coronavirus.