Covid-positive OFWs in HK forced to stay in parks in cold weather
February 19, 2022

The HK-based Mission for Migrant Workers dispensing free health care to OFWs. (Migrante-HK photo)

A number of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who have tested positive of Covid-19 are being terminated, abandoned and forced to live in parks in cold weather in Hong Kong.

Migrante International (MI) and the United Filipinos in Hong Kong (Unifil-HK) reported that several employers of Filipino domestic workers in the territory have refused to take back their employees who are sick with Covid-19.

“[They have] no immediate place to go as they were advised to stay home by the HK health authorities since they were found to be asymptomatic,” MI said in a statement.

Unifil and Migrante-HK secretary general Eman Villanueva said in a radio interview Friday that they received reports of OFWs staying in parks and sleeping on cold concrete floors surrounded only by their luggage.

“Some non-government organizations are trying to find temporary shelter for the sick OFWs but it should really be the Philippine government’s concern,” Villanueva told DZRH.

He added that not all Covid-positive migrant workers have access to NGOs or others for assistance.

5th Covid wave in HK

The HK-based Mission for Migrant Workers said it has assisted no less than 10 domestic workers who were “preliminary positive” (with Covid-19) and were left in the cold the past 2-3 days.

The humanitarian organization said the situation is “a developing crisis due to the fifth wave of COVID-19 pandemic” in the territory.

The mission added that HK hospitals and quarantine facilities are overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients, migrant domestic workers who have mild symptoms were told to isolate at home.

“With no assistance available, these workers are abandoned on the street overnight, stranded at hospitals, lacking food and supplies. Some are not eligible for public healthcare due to contract termination,” the mission revealed.

[The Mission for Migrant Workers has launched this appeal to Help Abandoned Domestic Workers in Hong Kong.]

PH gov’t abandonment

MI and Unifil-HK added the situation of terminated and sick OFWs is made worse by the apparent abandonment by the Philippine government.

“Clearly, government neglect is the trademark of the Philippine government whose one of the main sources of revenues is the mandatory collections of fees imposed by the PH government under its Labor Export Program,” MI said.

The groups demanded that the Manila government through its Consulate General in the territory to make immediate arrangements with the HK administrators to set up a free isolation center for COVID-19 positive Filipino migrant workers.

“We also demand the PH government for an immediate cash relief to OFWs who were terminated and affected by the pandemic in Hong Kong and other countries,” the group added.

The PH Consulate General in HK has yet to reply to requests for comment. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

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