In Hong Kong, foreign domestic workers face an ’emerging crisis’ as COVID-19 limits housing, travel options

J in her previous employer’s home. Photo via Hong Kong Free Press. used with permission.

The following report was published in Hong Kong Free Press on February 17, 2022. It is republished on Global Voices via a content partnership agreement.

A 35-year-old Filipina foreign domestic worker who had her visa application denied was forced to live on the streets of Hong Kong for two nights after testing positive for COVID-19. The case has generated widespread sympathy and complaints about Hong Kong's insufficient resources for migrants. It comes as a migrant workers’ support group warns of an “emerging crisis.”

J, who wished to remain anonymous, told HKFP on Thursday that she had been living in a park in Hong Kong's Yau Ma Tei district since testing positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday. She was scheduled to fly back to the Philippines on Wednesday following a visa denial.

J was asymptomatic and was told by the hospital to quarantine at home as the hospital was at capacity. However, the 35-year-old did not have a place to return to as she had resigned from her previous employment over poor living conditions and was denied a visa to work for a new employer. Domestic workers must legally “live in” with their employers.

The migrant worker reached out to the Hong Kong Federation of Asian Domestic Workers Unions (FADWU) for help, and the group provided her with a tent, a sleeping bag, facemasks, some cleaning supplies, as well as some food.

“I’m freezing because of the weather [it’s] very cold,” J said. “I really don’t [know] what to do.”

Temperatures in Hong Kong are expected to drop to 10 degrees Celsius during the weekend.

Start the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.