The existing quota for receiving foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) at the Penny’s Bay Quarantine Centre is an optimal arrangement, Secretary for Labour & Welfare Dr Law Chi-kwong said today.
The Government announced earlier that 800 units at the Lantau quarantine centre will be made available for eligible helpers to undergo quarantine from September 20 and that it would receive at most 50 helpers every day.
However, the booking system will not accept reservations from tomorrow in an effort for the Government to review the booking workflow and logistics arrangements.
At a media session after a radio programme this morning, Dr Law explained why it would not be feasible for the centre to offer more quarantine quotas.
Dr Law said: “If we are to increase that number significantly, such as to a hundred or so, we are running the risk of high infection among people coming in and subsequently we may have to suspend the flights.
“If we increase the number of people coming in and then unfortunately we have high infection rates on arrival, then all these flights will be suspended. That basically means there will be none coming in.
“We definitely have to look at the development of the epidemic, the situation of FDHs flying in, the infection control measures and the infection rates.”
Bookings will take at least a week to resume, he pointed out, admitting that it was almost inevitable to have hiccups as the Government is running the quarantine facility in a new way.
“The Government has never run a hotel before and that is a real challenge to our department colleagues. I do actually appreciate the efforts they have made in such a short notice, making such a facility to run almost like a hotel. We will see how we can improve the process.”
Meanwhile, when asked about matters related to the Confederation of Trade Unions, one of the city’s largest employee retraining programme providers, Dr Law said the Employees Retraining Board has been looking into the possibility that the union may close.
“The Employees Retraining Board has already been looking into this matter, seeing what are the possibilities and ways to try to reduce the impact on trainees as far as possible, such as whether they can speed up the training programmes so that they can end quickly before the possible winding up, and if it is not possible, whether other training bodies can come on board to help complete or take over the training.”