Hong Kong officials have dropped a plan to mandate foreign domestic workers to be vaccinated against coronavirus amid international criticism that the move would be discriminatory.
Most of Hong Kong’s approximately 370,000 domestic workers come from Indonesia and the Philippines, both severely affected by the pandemic.
Hong Kong officials initially proposed the mandate after a foreign domestic worker tested positive for a Covid-19 variant in April, with an unknown source of infection. Another worker arriving from the Philippines also tested positive for a variant.
Those findings prompted the city to order domestic workers to be tested for the virus at the end of April.
The plan for mandatory vaccinations was dropped after officials assessed public health needs and potential legal issues, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said at a regular news briefing on Tuesday.
Philippines Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr previously condemned the Hong Kong government for its mandatory vaccination plan for foreign domestic workers, saying it “smacks of discrimination”,
On Tuesday, Ms Lam also announced a second round of mandatory tests for domestic workers as a precaution, which will begin on Saturday and last until the end of the May.
She urged employers to allow staff to take the test on a work day instead of on their day off.
Hong Kong has so far reported 11,812 coronavirus infections, with 210 deaths.
Indonesia has reported more than 1.7 million people infected and 47,000 deaths, while the Philippines has confirmed 1.1 million infections and 18,500 deaths.