Hong Kong drops ‘discriminatory’ vaccine plan for international staff

Hong Kong drops ‘discriminatory’ vaccine plan for international staff

Hong Kong has scrapped a plan to make coronavirus vaccines necessary for international home staff after the Philippines and labour teams criticised the proposal as discriminatory.

Still, Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief government, on Tuesday ordered one other spherical of necessary testing for all international home helpers as a “precaution” towards extra infectious variants of the coronavirus.

Hong Kong health officers introduced the necessary vaccination plan and testing of all home staff final month after two staff examined constructive for a extra virulent pressure of the coronavirus.

Authorities mentioned home staff had been “excessive danger” as a result of they typically work with the aged and meet in parks on Sundays, often their someday off every week, and mentioned that these wanting to use for work visas – or renew their present ones – would wish to indicate they’d acquired two doses of the COVID-19 jab.

Most of Hong Kong’s roughly 370,000 home staff come from Indonesia and the Philippines, international locations which are each severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The proposal prompted condemnation from the Philippines’ Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locsin Jr, who mentioned the necessary vaccination plan “smacks of discrimination”.

Labour teams representing home staff additionally mentioned they felt they had been being singled out, noting that the households they labored for – in addition to locals working in environments akin to care houses – weren’t required to get vaccinated.

The teams additionally identified that wealthier international migrants akin to town’s white-collar monetary staff weren’t compelled to get vaccines when outbreaks of the coronavirus had been traced to their districts.

On Tuesday, Lam mentioned her authorities dropped the plan after officers assessed public health wants and the potential authorized points. She added that the choice had been made after conferences with officers from the Philippines and Indonesia.

Lam additionally mentioned the second spherical of necessary checks for non-vaccinated staff will start on Saturday and final till the tip of May.

“We should take precautions earlier than any doable outbreaks, as we had discovered some infectious COVID-19 variants locally,” she mentioned.

But that call sparked recent concern, with a Philippines diplomat warning it will “not go down effectively with the group”.

“I questioned the need of one other necessary take a look at, citing the near-perfect compliance of home staff to the preliminary necessary take a look at,” Consul General Raly Tejada informed the South China Morning Post, describing latest conferences with Hong Kong officers.

Hong Kong has to date reported 11,812 infections of the coronavirus, with 210 deaths.

While the territory has secured ample doses of the COVID-19 vaccines, public uptake has been very low.

So far simply 16 % of town’s 7.5 million individuals have acquired a number of doses, a good distance from the 60 to 70 % thought of vital for herd immunity.

Regular polling exhibits Hong Kongers have among the lowest help scores for inoculation on the planet.

Some of Hong Kong’s Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines will go their shelf life in September and officers fret they could be within the unenviable place of throwing away good doses.

The vaccination drive has been hampered by the federal government’s public belief deficit.

After enormous democracy protests exploded in 2019, Hong Kong’s unelected leaders – with the backing of Beijing – have overseen a sweeping crackdown on dissent within the metropolis.