Labor Attaché Melchor Dizon of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO)-Hong Kong (Screengrab from Laging Handa briefing)

MANILA – The Hong Kong (HK) government is one with the Philippine government in reminding employers in the host territory that terminating an employee who got infected with the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) is a violation of their labor laws.

Labor Attaché Melchor Dizon of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO)-HK, said so far, there are only three cases of termination involving Filipino workers but in these cases, the employers were convinced to reconsider their decisions.

“Due to the reported terminations received due to Covid-19, the Hong Kong Government has sent an official communication to the Philippine Consulate General that they will assist in assisting there and monitor and provide as well. They warn employers that it is against the employment ordinance, the termination of the worker if they have Covid,” Dizon said in a Laging Handa briefing.

At the same time, Dizon reported that there are currently 221 OFWs that were afflicted by the virus.

“Of the number, 43 have recovered. Another 95 are with their employers, because their policy here when you test positive, he/she will be subjected to the mandatory testing, if one tests positive, he/she will receive a text message to stay home and wait for the call of the Center for Health Protection and then they will pick you up and be taken to quarantine facilities. So, 95 those in the employer's home,” he said.

Meanwhile, 22 are in government quarantine facilities, another 22 are in isolation facilities of non-government organizations, 23 are in boarding houses waiting for the call of the Center for Health Protection, six are in hotel quarantine facilities, and eight are in hospitals.

He also reported that Hong Kong is closed to travelers from eight nations -- the Philippines, Canada, the US, the United Kingdom, Nepal, Pakistan, Australia, and France.

“The suspension of incoming flights from these countries has been extended until April 20,” Dizon said.

He added that from zero cases, it has reached more than 100 in January, and last month increased to 10,000 up to 20,000.

“Last March 1, the cases are 32,000. Unfortunately, yesterday (Wednesday) the reported cases are 55,000,” Dizon said.

The labor official also reported that the government continues to provide financial assistance to affected OFWs.

“Aside from food packs, we also provide them power banks for their mobile phones to be able to communicate with their loved ones in the Philippines and after they have recovered, they are entitled to the $200 aftercare financial assistance from Overseas Workers Welfare Administration,” he added.

Over 220,000 OFWs are working and living in the host territory, 90 percent of whom are household service workers. (PNA)