Hong Kong International Airport. Photo: iStock

The Department of Health in Hong Kong announced a pilot scheme on Thursday to provide measles tests for 200 Filipino domestic workers at Hong Kong International Airport.

Measles testing will be provided for the Filipino domestic workers who are coming or returning to work in Hong Kong on April 30, May 2 and 7, according to a government release.

A spokesperson from the health authority said the department “hopes to better grasp the overall immunity against measles among Filipino foreign domestic helpers working in Hong Kong.”

Participants will be informed of the results individually and measles vaccinations will be provided to those who do not test positive for the measles antibody, officials said. Leaflets will be distributed at the gates of flights arriving from the Philippines. Airlines operating flights from the Philippines have been informed of the arrangement.

The venue of the blood test station will be at the south side before the Immigration Hall at Level 3 or Terminal 2, a non-restricted area. Its operation hours will be from 9 am to 1 pm.

The pilot scheme drew different feedback from the domestic worker and employer groups. Shiella Estrada, Chairperson of the Progressive Labor Union of Domestic Workers, said it was unfair and discriminatory against Filipino workers, Ming Pao Daily reported.

“Would that mean we, the Filipino workers, are more dangerous?” she asked. She also said that not only Filipinos are prone to measles and she hoped the government could give a reason why the tests only targeted Filipino domestic workers.

The Mission for Migrant Workers welcomed the scheme, but said the 200 quota was inadequate when compared with the 300,000 overseas domestic workers in the city. The group suggested the government launch community-based blood tests and vaccinations and subsidized the cost of the vaccine for domestic workers, Apple Daily reported.

Betty Yung Ma Shan-yee, the Hong Kong Employers of Overseas Domestic Helpers’ Association chairman, said the scheme could help employers examine their workers’ health before they start work.

But she emphasized that the government should ask if the workers were willing to take the blood test. Hong Kong has recorded 67 measles cases so far this year.

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