HK vows aid for OFWs with COVID-19 – PH consulate | Inquirer News
Union who raised alarm says ‘situation quite better now’

Hong Kong vows aid for OFWs with COVID-19 – PH consulate

Hong Kong COVID-19 patients, for story: Hong Kong vows aid for OFWs with COVID-19 – PH consulate

Patients wearing face masks lie in bed at a makeshift treatment area outside a hospital, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Hong Kong, China February 16, 2022. (Photo by ALEKSANDER SOLUMN / Reuters)

MANILA, Philippines– Resolution was swift for the plight of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Hong Kong who got infected with COVID-19, some of whom were terminated by their employers after testing positive for the coronavirus.

The Philippine Consulate in Hong Kong on Tuesday said all OFWs needing emergency assistance due to the recent COVID-19 surge have been accounted for and assisted.


Consul General Raly Tejada also assured the Filipino community there that the Hong Kong labor department had sent word to the consulate that it was committed to giving proper care and treatment to the Filipino workers, mostly domestic helpers, if they test positive for COVID-19.


He said they were likewise talking to the employers of three to five OFWs who were terminated after getting infected with COVID-19 to inform them that firing workers due to their illness was illegal.

“Upon our representations, the Hong Kong government through the labor department assured the consulate that all Filipinos in Hong Kong needing medical attention and isolation, will be treated and taken to an isolation facility if necessary,” Tejada said in a Malacañang briefing.


Plea from union

More than 200,000 Filipinos work in Hong Kong, more than 90 percent of them as domestic helpers.

The Filipino Migrant Workers’ Union (FMWU), which on Monday sought government assistance on behalf of the OFWs, agreed that the situation had improved as many of the displaced and infected workers were moved to temporary shelters or hospitals.

“Many of them have already been transferred to temporary shelters unlike in the previous days when they were neglected and left to sleep outside hospitals or in parks,” FMWU vice chair Eman Villanueva said in an interview with radio station dzBB.

“Yesterday we received calls from some OFWs needing help but they’re already inside hospitals so we advised them to stay there until doctors attend to them or they get admitted. The situation is quite better now compared to previous days,” he added.

Delayed test results

Villanueva said his group was helping other workers stranded at airports due to the backlog in the release of reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test results, a requirement in returning to the Philippines.

He said they had provided the OFWs with financial allowance for meals and RT-PCR testing.

“They also don’t want to leave the airport because anytime, if their RT-PCR test comes out, they will take a flight home to the Philippines. Last night, almost everyone was able to board their flight home,” he said.

Earlier reports claimed that foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong, including Filipinos, were fired by their employers, denied admission to hospitals and forced to stay in parks amid a fresh wave of coronavirus infections.

The Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Hong Kong had denied that some Filipinos were forced to sleep in the streets and said they might have been the ones who got their positive COVID-19 test result at the airport and had to wait to be picked up by nongovernment organizations or the consulate.

Tejada said a total of 61 Filipinos have tested positive for COVID-19 and 31 sought help from the consulate to get admitted to the hospital or get access to isolation facilities.

“I am pleased to report that all of them are safe and have received medical attention and are now staying in an isolation facility,” he said.

“I’m glad to report that through the representations of the consulate, many of those who were initially turned away by their employers are now actually back with their employers or went back to their boarding houses,” he added.

‘Illegal dismissal’

The primary mission of the consulate was to see to their treatment, but it would also investigate the circumstances of their firing, according to Tejada.

“If we are able to prove that they were asked to leave because of their sickness, we could say that this is illegal dismissal under the employment ordinance of Hong Kong,” he pointed out.

According to Tejada, the magnitude and severity of Hong Kong’s fifth wave of coronavirus infections due to the Omicron variant had taken everybody by surprise and affected all its residents, not just Filipinos.

Meanwhile, acting presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles said no Filipino from Hong Kong would be barred from coming home to the Philippines amid the surge in cases there.

The government’s policy is to allow the entry of all Filipinos who want to come home, he said.

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As to whether Filipinos would be prevented from going to Hong Kong, he said it would be up to the Hong Kong government if it would ban flights from the Philippines.


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