Mandatory COVID-19 testing for domestic workers ‘not discrimination’: Chief Executive Carrie Lam

Domestic workers spend their rest day lining up for a COVID-19 test in Causeway Bay. Photo: Apple Dail
Domestic workers spend their rest day lining up for a COVID-19 test in Causeway Bay. Photo: Apple Dail

Chief Executive Carrie Lam has denied that ordering the city’s 360,00 foreign domestic workers to undergo COVID-19 is discriminatory.

Addressing reporters in a weekly press conference Tuesday, the Hong Kong leader stressed that the mandatory testing requirement is based on public health considerations.

“It does not involve any discrimination, whether race, language or social status,” Lam said.

She added that domestic workers have “a habit of gathering” on rest days, and that their work involves coming into close contact with children and elderly.

Read more: Commentator accused of racism for suggesting that Filipino chain Jollibee should be given COVID-19 testing order

The mandatory testing policy for domestic workers comes after two helpers, one living in Mid-Levels and another in Tung Chung, tested positive for the more transmissible mutant COVID-19 strain.

The Asian Migrants Coordinating Body filed a complaint to the Equal Opportunitites Unit on Monday, alleging that the government is stigmitazing domestic workers and exercising a double standard. Such harsh measures were not taken during the recent gym cluster outbreak, a spokesperson said.

According to local media reports on Monday night, a resident in Tsim Sha Tsui tested preliminary positive for the mutated virus. If confirmed, this would make the patient the fourth known mutated COVID-19 case in the city.

Read more: Mid-Levels residents pen legal letter to health dep’t demanding ‘basis’ for 21-day quarantine, claiming ‘false imprisonment’

Emphasizing that the compulsory testing is rooted in health risk assessment, Lam said that caretakers working at homes for the elderly and disabled have already undergone 13 rounds of fortnightly COVID-19 testing.

Lam added that authorities and health experts are still reviewing the possibility of mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for domestic workers, but that nothing has been decided at this stage.

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