HK Labour Sec: Allow Filipinos to return to Hong Kong

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Labour and Welfare Sec. Law Chi-Kwong meets Philippine Consul General Raly Tejada on Feb.4, 2020.

Hong Kong’s Labour and Welfare Sec. Law Chi-Kwong asked the Philippine government on Feb.4, 2020 to reconsider its decision to prohibit overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from returning to Hong Kong, a measure that was ostensibly set in place to prevent Filipinos from being infected with the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

Law made this appeal in a meeting with Philippine Consul General Raly Tejada, Consul Paul Saret and Assistant Labour Attache Antonio Villafuerte on Feb.4, days after the travel ban has put thousands of domestic helpers in a bind due to their sudden inability to fly back and resume their work in Hong Kong.

Tejada said the labour and welfare minister “made strong representations for the Philippine Government to allow Filipinos to return to Hong Kong.”

The top Philippine diplomat added that Law also gave his assurance that the Hong Kong government is “doing its utmost best” to contain the disease, including tightening border checkpoints with mainland China, where the first cases of 2019-nCoV were reported in mid-December last year.

Tejada said the immigration department, on the other hand, said that it will give due consideration to workers and travelers affected by the temporary travel ban.

“I conveyed that the Consulate will immediately convey the Hong Kong government’s request to Manila,” Tejada said.

The meeting took place a day after Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam also said that she has asked the labour and immigration departments to do something about the situation of Filipino domestic helpers covered by the travel ban.

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 the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) on Feb.2. The said virus has affected over 20,000 people in 27 countries, with majority of the infections reported in mainland China.

At least 17 cases have been reported in Hong Kong, with one death.