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Asia Minute

Asia Minute: Hong Kong faces shortage of quarantine facilities, pressure on domestic workers

APTOPIX Virus Outbreak Hong Kong
Vincent Yu/AP
Residents line up to get tested for the coronavirus at a temporary testing center in Hong Kong Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

Hong Kong is entering a new phase of the pandemic. The city is ordering mandatory COVID tests for all of its residents. And an increasing caseload is having other impacts as well.

Starting next month, all residents of Hong Kong will undergo three rounds of COVID tests.

The development comes as new cases continue to spike.

On Tuesday, the University of Hong Kong published research projecting that more than a third of city residents could be forced into quarantine in coming weeks — either with the virus or as a result of their close contacts.

Hong Kong officials warn that capacity of quarantine facilities will quickly become an issue.

The city has sped up plans to provide nearly 50,000 isolation beds.

Tight space is already causing problems for some of the nearly 400,000 domestic workers in the city — most of whom are women from the Philippines and Indonesia.

Last week, a coalition of support groups said foreign domestic workers who tested positive for the virus were being “abandoned” — fired from their jobs and forced to sleep outside.

The Philippines consul general in Hong Kong said Tuesday it was illegal and “immoral” for city residents to fire domestic workers infected with the virus.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer reports “a number” of domestic workers who tested positive were denied admission to local hospitals — because if their employers fired them, their work visas would be invalid.

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