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CARE SUPPLY CHAIN

Hong Kong will bring in caregivers from mainland China to keep up with its omicron crisis

Covid-19 outbreak in Hong Kong
Reuters/Tyrone Siu
Wang is one of China’s most high-profile critics of its covid policy.
  • Tripti Lahiri
By Tripti Lahiri

Asia bureau chief

Published

Hong Kong is relaxing hiring rules for care workers willing to come to the city to help battle its covid crisis.

Like many places, Hong Kong wants locals to be offered jobs first. For three months starting today (March 1), the government will remove the requirement that employers spend four weeks trying to find or train a local hire as part of the process of hiring care workers. The city hopes to bring in 1,000 short-term care workers from mainland China.

Hong Kong’s covid wave and its elderly population

Yesterday (Feb. 28), Hong Kong reported more than 34,000 new infections the previous day, while about 400 people have died in the current outbreak. Prior to the current wave, a little over 200 people had died of covid in the city during the whole pandemic.

Covid infections continue to rise in homes for the elderly, many of whom remain partially or entirely unvaccinated, while staff are also out sick. A fifth of Hong Kong’s population of about 7.4 million is over the age of 65, and about 75,000 people live in elder care homes. At the same time, the city has opened more covid isolation and treatment facilities that also need to be staffed, and plans to test the entire city multiple times this month.

The care workers will most likely not be required to quarantine, because the city can exempt specific categories of people coming from the mainland, Macao, or Taiwan in the public interest.

Meanwhile, other strict covid rules remain in place, including a two-week hotel quarantine for arrivals, and a ban on flights from the UK, US, and India until at least April 20.

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