Can domestic helpers get vaccines in the Philippines before coming to Hong Kong? What is the COVID-19 situation there?
COVID-19 situation in the Philippines:
COVID-19 has had a huge impact on the Philippines. The country continues to face challenges in controlling case numbers and in rolling out vaccination programmes. Things to be aware of:
- International Travel Restrictions: There are ongoing Philippine government restrictions that limit the number of international passenger arrivals at Manila airport, suspend some inbound travel, and restrict non-essential travel in and out of Manila (See latest Travel Advisories on Philippine Airlines). The Hong Kong Government has also suspended flights from the Philippines starting 20 April.
- Strict Community Quarantine Measures: Rising COVID-19 case numbers have led to the tightening of community quarantine measures: (CNN Philippines, 29 April 2021) These mean limited workforce capacities, restricted local transportation options, and curfews.
- Varying regulations between Local Government Units: Different cities and provinces in the Philippines have varying COVID-19 restrictions. Some require Travel Permits, home quaratines, etc. Check: Local Travel Guidelines: HERE by Philippine Airlines.
Many domestic helpers may not live near the agency office and may need to travel back and forth for appointments. If the domestic helper does not live in Manila, they may have to find boarding/accommodation while waiting for processing/to fly out. At times, domestic helpers have difficulty covering the costs needed to complete the processing steps. This may create delays in the timeline. Employers may consider remitting the money in advance to their domestic helper to ensure they can pay for the items needed.
Vaccination in the Philippines for Overseas Filipino Workers
It is still quite difficult to get vaccinated in the Philippines. In April 2021, the Philippines is experiencing the worst COVID-19 surge in South East Asia, with the most active cases in the region (Bloomberg). Vaccination efforts are facing several challenges (COVID-19 Vaccination Tracker CBS Philippines).
There are nine groups prioritised over Overseas Filipino Workers, who are prioritised just above the rest of the Filipino workforce and the general population for the vaccination programme. While people can register, each Local Government Unit of each province will have different systems to designate vaccinations based on the prioritisation structure. This means vaccination dates cannot be confirmed as they will be given on a case-by-case basis. Read the Philippine Department of Health website on vaccines: HERE.
Less than a third of 1.7 million health workers in the country had been inoculated as of March 23. The Philippines is behind its Southeast Asian neighbours like Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia in inoculations, based on World Bank data. The Philippines has administered 0.2 vaccine doses per 100 people as of mid-March, compared to Singapore’s 13.5 doses (Bloomberg, 29 March 2021).
You may also like:
- Quick guide for Employers of Domestic Helpers
- COVID-19 updates affecting domestic helpers & employers
- FAQs on the Covid-19 vaccine programme for domestic helpers
- How can domestic helpers get a visa extension?
- Do I need domestic helper insurance during employment?
- Do I have to pay for a domestic helper’s medical expenses?
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Last updated on May 5th, 2021