Saturday, May 1, 2021

Disease and discrimination come together in the case of domestic workers in Hong Kong

Why are there still people in Hong Kong who refuse to 
wear masks (and able to get away with doing so)?!

Hong Kong reported its first untraceable mutated Wuhan coronavirus case two days ago.  As it so happened, the infected individual is a domestic helper from the Philippines.  This prompted the Hong Kong government to not only issue mandatory testing notices for people who had visited a shopping mall, a park, and a wet market that the she had visited -- normative practice in Hong Kong these days -- but, also, order the entire domestic worker population of Hong Kong (which numbers in the hundreds of thousands) to undergo tests for the coronavirus and plan to make all of them be vaccinated against the coronavirus -- something which most assuredly is not something considered normal or, for that matter, entirely reasonable.
Are the authorities trying to ensure the domestic workers are not infected by their employers (something which has most definitely happened here)?  Somehow, I doubt that this government would care so much about the welfare of this long mis-treated and under-valued community.  Still, if the authorities go ahead with their mandatory vaccination plan for domestic workers, it might feel like sweet justice indeed if, at some point in the future, cases arise whereby a fully vaccinated domestic helper is exempt from being quarantined but her -- for the domestic workers are almost always female -- unvaccinated employers get locked away (after Hong Kong quarantine regulations are changed to reflect the fact that vaccinated people are less likely to spread the coronavirus as well as catch it than unvaccinated individuals)!  
Getting back to reality: it's become clear that there is now silent spread in the community of the mutant coronavirus strain whose first local untraceable case has caused such a kerfuffle.  And while, at present, no one's talking about a fifth wave having begun in Hong Kong (and today's -- and for that matter, the last 30 days' -- coronavirus statistics for the territory remain reassuringly low), one really shouldn't let down one's guard as yet.      

Worryingly, however, people -- including the not yet (fully) vaccinated, and most definitely not just domestic workers either -- have been out socializing in droves in recent days (and nights) after bars, nightclubs and the like were allowed to reopen on Thursday.  Also, I feel like the number of people not wearing masks as well as not wearing masks properly has increased too (perhaps because people who have been vaccinated, even if with the lower efficacy Sinovac, feel that they are now at liberty to do so?).  And for the record: the people I've seen out in public without masks on are far more likely to be elderly local folks, entitled white expats, South Asian men and smokers regardless of ethnicity rather than domestic workers per se!


Anonymous said...

Hi There,

Over the past yeasr, my observation is that, some citizens couldn't even get the size of their masks right. They didn't even care to amend or adjust the stripes. Maybe this is among the reasons of not wearing their masks correctly for some.


peppylady (Dora) said...

Wow I thought I was only area didn't wear mask.
Coffee is on and stay safe

YTSL said...

Hi T --

I must admit that I didn't really know how to wear masks properly until early last year. But since it's been close to one and a half years now since the Wuhan coronavirus arrived in Hong Kong, I'd have thought that everyone would have made it a point to figure out how to wear masks properly, etc. by now!

Hi peppylady --

To be fair, it's indeed all relative. When I complain about people not wearing masks or not wearing them properly in Hong Kong these days, I'm thinking it's about 10-15% of the populace -- down from around 5%. Whereas I get the feeling that if you had 85% of the population in your town/state wearing masks properly, you'd be happier with the percentage!