Domestic workers (DWs) experiencing the impact of the 5th wave of Covid-19

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Filipino domestic workers (FDWs) spending their Sunday day off

Hong Kong is now facing the 5th wave of the local Covid-19 with continuously increasing cases in Kwai Chung Estate.

The foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong though not living in the estates are experiencing the impact of the surge of the cases of Omicron variant which is a more transmissible virus.

Ligaya Austria-Diez, who is working in Hong Kong for more than a decade, said that her employer reminded her last week not to go out even during her day off when her employers learned the news in Kwai Chung Estate. Her employers, an elderly couple, live in an affluent neighborhood in the Stanley area. Her employers even told her that she can cook her food at their flat.

But Austria-Diez said that she needs some supplies that week for herself, like bath soap, shampoo, and other supplies for her to keep her hygiene. She cannot buy it at the Stanley shops as they are more expensive. She said, as she really need to buy her supplies, she got out and bought at dispensary shops at Aberdeen where the price is much cheaper. She said that she was really in a hurry and did not think that it was her day off. When she arrived home, both of her employers were out of the house.

Austria-Diez said that she knew that her employers were protecting her not to catch the virus as she was not allowed to go out, but, she said, it was unfair to her, that her employers can go out and go to places they want. Austria-Diez said that since 2019, the start of the pandemic, she seldom goes out during her day off as told by her employers.

Lindy Paclibar, working in Hong Kong for 24 years, said that when the pandemic reached its peak in the year 2020, her employer asked her not to take her day off since March of that year. Paclibar said that she agreed with her employer because she understood that her employer wanted to protect her and their family, and she was paid also for not taking her days off. Her employer allowed her once in a while to take her day off if she had important appointments, like meeting with organizations.

Paclibar said that the last time she spent her day with the Filipino community was on December 26 and Jan. 1, but clarified that she spent a few hours only on her day off.

The Government on Monday, strongly appealed again to all sectors including foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) to fight the virus together. The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) conducted joint operations with several government departments over the past two weekends (Jan.  15-16; Jan. 22-23) at popular places in different districts including Central, Yau Tsim Mong, Shatin, and other popular places where FDWs commonly gather during their days off.

This morning, Jan. 25, Chief Executive (CE) Carrie Lam reported, that there was no doubt that Hong Kong has a major spread of Omicron, a highly transmittable variant, with a cumulative case of 220 plus of confirmed and preliminary positive cases in Kwan Chung Estate.  CE Carrie Lam, also reported that yesterday, the Government discovered new cases at Yat Kwai House with a figure of about 20 cases. The Government said with the newly discovered new cases, they need to protect the residents as well as prevent the spread of the virus.