Hong Kong vaccine plan shocks domestic workers

Employment requirement: Migrant workers registering for Covid-19 testing in the Central district of Hong Kong. — AFP

Hong Kong: Hong Kong migrant worker groups criticised plans to make coronavirus vaccines compulsory for all foreign domestic helpers, labelling the move “discriminatory and unjust”.

Health officials said they were planning to roll out mandatory inoculations for the 370,000 domestic helpers in the city, mostly poorly-paid women from the Philippines and Indonesia.

Those wanting to apply for work visas – or renew their current ones – would need to show they had been vaccinated, officials said on Friday.

If the plan goes ahead, it would be the first time Hong Kong has directly tied working rights for foreigners to vaccines.

“This is clearly an act of discrimination and stigmatisation against migrant domestic workers, ” Dolores Balladares Pelaez, chair of United Filipinos in Hong Kong, said.

Labour groups representing domestic workers said they were angered other foreigners – and locals working in environments such as care homes – were not also required to get vaccinated.

“Again, we are being singled out and targeted, ” Pelaez added.

Health officials announced the vaccination plan after two domestic helpers were found to be infected with one of the more virulent strains of the coronavirus.

All domestic workers have also been ordered to get tested over the coming days – a measure that did not extend to the families they work for.

Officials said domestic workers were deemed “high risk” both because they enter from overseas and often gather outdoors in large numbers on Sundays – their one day off in the week. — AFP

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