Risk of helpers bringing in Covid is limited: expert

Infectious disease expert Joseph Tsang said on Monday that the government has to make sure a centralised quarantine system is in place for thousands of domestic helpers who are expected to start flying in from the Philippines soon.

His comments came after reports that at least 3,000 fully inoculated Filipino helpers may be allowed to come work here as early as next week, as long as they can provide vaccination certificates issued by the country’s Bureau of Quarantine.

There’s been a shortage of helpers in Hong Kong after flights from the Philippines and Indonesia were banned since April and June following a surge of coronavirus cases in the countries.

Tsang said the risk of the helpers bringing Covid-19 to the community is limited, as they will be fully vaccinated, and will be tested repeatedly when they undergo quarantine upon arriving in Hong Kong.

Speaking on an RTHK programme, the expert agreed with the government’s plan to designate hotels especially for helpers’ quarantine.

“In case there are [Covid-19] cases, it would be easier for us to conduct contact tracing. In terms of resource allocation, for example in collecting specimen, cleaning, or monitoring the hotels’ facilities, especially ventilation, we can make sure the work is highly centralised,” he explained.

He said the government should limit the number of helpers who can come in at the initial stage, and increase the quota gradually, to make sure quarantine hotels can cope.