FDH still prefer to work in HK amid COVID-19 scare: survey

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OFWs in Central

Foreign domestic helpers opt to still stay and work in Hong Kong amid the novel coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19), a survey conducted by a recruitment online platform showed.

A survey conducted in early February by HelperChoice, an online hub which connects foreign domestic helpers with recruiters, showed that over 90 percent of the 921 foreign domestic workers they talked to said they do not have plans of moving to another country or place for work.

“Overall, more than 90% of the helpers surveyed do not consider moving to another country to work and will remain in the city,” HelperChoice said on Feb.12.

HelperChoice stressed this is “a good outcome for Hong Kong society,” as one out of seven families rely on foreign domestic workers to take care of their loved ones.

There are 400,000 foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong, 220,000 of whom are Filipino.

The survey also said that foreign domestic workers showed “surprisingly positive” reactions to the reminders of their employers to take precautionary measures.

“Overall, the testimonies that HelperChoice collected are surprisingly positive. In those difficult times most employers encourage their helpers to take it easy. For example, Joy, a domestic worker in Hong Kong testifies: “My employers advised me to maintain good personal hygiene, avoid crowded places, avoid direct contact, like kissing on the cheeks or handshaking to greet someone. They also told me to take more time to sleep, as having enough rest will boost my immune system. Today, I appreciate my employers even more than I did before thanks to their consideration,” the survey said.

The survey also covered the effects of the travel ban implemented by the Philippine government since Feb.2.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered a travel ban to mainland China and its special administrative regions Hong Kong and Macau following the death of a Chinese national infected with CODIV-19 on Feb.2. The said virus has affected over 70,000 people in 27 countries and territories, with majority of the infections reported in mainland China.

The travel ban has since then been partially lifted on Feb. 18 to allow migrant workers, permanent resident visa holders and students to fly to Hong Kong.

The survey said the travel ban affected 16 percent of the respondents, while 30 percent have close friends or relatives affected by it.

A bigger percentage however – 54 percent – said they were not affected by it.

Some of those surveyed also said they understood why the travel ban has to be set in place.

“That’s the least we can do to help combat the virus! This is about world health concern. It may affect our existing plans as domestic workers here in Hong Kong, but it is necessary,” Che, a domestic worker said.

COVID-19 has infected at least 101 people in Hong Kong with two deaths. Two of those infected are  Filipina domestic workers.

Outside Hong Kong, COVID-19 has infected over 80,000 people in 40 other countries and territories with majority of the infections in mainland China.