‘Give helpers more time to get tested’

An employers group says it hopes the government will allow more time for foreign domestic helpers to get tested for Covid-19.

Helpers usually have only one day off a week, and were given nine days to take a test, as the government tries to stop the spread of more infectious Covid strains in the community.

Betty Yung, the chairwoman of the Hong Kong Employers of Overseas Domestic Helpers Association on Tuesday said that with 370,000 helpers in Hong Kong all needing to get tested in just nine days, the time frame is too short and she hoped the government would give them a few more days.

Eni Lestari, the founder of the Association of Indonesian Migrant Workers, questioned why the helper population was being singled out for testing, saying there was an incorrect assumption that all helpers gathered together on their rest days.

Yesterday, Hong Kong recorded the third day in a row with no local cases, but called on people who’d visited CityGate Mall in Tung Chung on April the 11th to get tested, and quarantined residents of a building in Tsim Sha Tsui, where a suspected case was found.

Officials made the order after two helpers were diagnosed with a more infectious strain of the virus. Migrant workers’ advocates strongly criticised the decision.

After the government had announced the compulsory testing, the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Law Chi-kwong, said the city’s 370,000 helpers are considered to be at “high risk” of coronavirus.

“The reason [for testing helpers] is not prejudice towards any particular group,” Law said. “The consideration is about risk. The nature of their work is to look after family members and many of them are elderly.”

The government also plans to force helpers to get vaccinated if they want to renew or apply for visas to work in Hong Kong.