Foreign domestic helpers gather in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong on March 15, 2021. (EDMOND TANG/CHINA DAILY)
HONG KONG – The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government will allow thousands of foreign domestic helpers stranded in the Philippines and Indonesia to come back to the city “in phases”, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said Tuesday, as the city reported seven new imported COVID-19 cases.
Meeting the media before an Executive Council meeting, Lam said there will be a “gradual reintroduction” of FDHs in Hong Kong so that they could be quarantined and tested in an orderly manner.
“We have discussed with the Philippines and Indonesia to enable the recognition of the vaccination record of these two countries. We hope foreign domestic helpers can in a gradual manner return to Hong Kong,” Lam said.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam called on the private sector to follow the government's lead and require staff to get vaccinated against COVID-19
She said the government cannot allow “thousands of foreign domestic helpers to come in every week” because it wants to avoid any possibility of COVID-19 cases overloading the city’s public hospital system.
She said returning FDHs will have to be quarantined for 21 days in specially designated hotels. Lam said the government has already identified one hotel with 400 rooms.
“I would ask the employers of foreign domestic helpers to be more patient with the system. If there are a few thousands being stranded in the Philippines and Indonesia it will take some time for them to come back,” she said.
Lam also called on the private sector to follow the government's lead and require staff to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
ALSO READ: Infant's infection among 5 new imported virus cases in HK
Five of Tuesday's seven new imported cases were from Pakistan while the remaining two were from Turkey and Lithuania respectively
Her call came as the financial hub's daily vaccination rate fell to below 30,000 recently while the number of people booking jabs dropped to around 11,000 per day.
She said unvaccinated employees could pose a risk of community transmission, especially those who need to take public transport to commute to work.
Employers should require staff who could not or unwilling to get vaccinated to take COVID-19 test at their own expense, Lam added.
She also said the government would expand the walk-in vaccination services to people aged 12 and above and that details will be announced soon.
As of Monday evening, more than 3.95 million people have taken at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine, accounting for 58.7 percent of the eligible population. Some 3.15 million people have been fully vaccinated with two shots.
Tuesday's new cases involved two boys, aged six and nine respectively, and five women aged between 26 and 56, according to the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health.
Five of them were from Pakistan and one each from Turkey and Lithuania. Among them, four have been fully vaccinated with Germany's BioNTech vaccine while one with the mainland-made Sinovac shots, the CHP said.