FDWs ordered to get tested, mandatory vaccination eyed

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Filipino foreign domestic workers in Central. (FILE PHOTO)

All foreign domestic workers were ordered on Friday to get tested for Covid-19 after a highly contagious coronavirus variant was found in a helper in Tung Chung.

Labour minister Dr. Law Chi-kwong revealed that authorities are also looking into requiring FDWs to get vaccinated before their employment visa applications will be processed.

Asked if this will create stigma against Hong Kong’s 370,000 foreign domestic workers, Law said the decision to test all of them was based on their “high risk” of infection.

“The reason is not to sort of make it having prejudice towards any particular group. The whole consideration is about risk,” Law said.

The labour chief said their job entails taking care of Hong Kong’s families, including the elderly. He also said that an FDW meeting with her friends during her days off may pose infection risks to their employer’s family.

“We’ve been contemplating the issue for a long time, but because of this variant of concern, that increased our determination that now it is required to mandate all of them within a given period of time to be tested,” he said.

As for requiring FDWs to get vaccinated before the processing of their visa applications, Law said this will guard against the importation of Covid-19 infections.

The labour minister this will cover around 500 FDWs daily renewing their contracts.

“We are not asking too much, as a matter of visa application requirement,” Law said. “And since they are not local residents, in view of the requirements to fight the epidemic we do think this is a necessary requirement.”

Prof. Sophia Chan, Hong Kong’s health secretary, said all FDWs must get tested before May 9 “out of caution.”

FDWs who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19—or those who got two jabs—and have waited for two weeks will no longer need to be vaccinated. FDWs who also got tested today need not take a Covid-19 screening again.

The health minister added that the government will look into whether regular screening of FDWs for Covid-19 will be needed following this round of compulsory testing.

Chan also urged employers to check on their FDW’s health conditions and ask them to see a doctor should they show symptoms.