More than 700 mainland care workers who were hired by the Hong Kong government during the fifth wave of Covid-19 have returned to the mainland, the Social Welfare Department has said on Monday. However, 17 of them will remain in the city under a labour scheme.

Temporary contract care workers from the mainland received training. Photo: GovHK.

The authorities employed 762 temporary care workers from mainland China on a three-month contract back in March.

The workers were deployed to holding centres, isolation facilities and residential care homes to take care of elderly patients or those with disabilities in a bid to alleviate the manpower shortage.

Caritas Medical Centre in Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong during the fifth-wave Covid-19 outbreak. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

The Social Welfare Department revealed that 17 from the batch of temporary care workers were hired by local residential homes after their contracts ended and will stay in Hong Kong.

Back in March, the government said it planned to hire 1,000 temporary workers from the mainland with a monthly salary of more than HK$30,000. The move was prompted by the large number of Covid-19 infections, which overwhelmed the public health care system and led to many elderly patients having to quarantine at their nursing home where they risked spreading the infection among the most vulnerable.

They were hired under the existing Supplementary Labour Scheme, which was introduced in 1996 and allowed employers to hire imported workers if they cannot fill vacancies with local workers.

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Almond Li

Almond Li is a Hong Kong-based journalist who previously worked for Reuters and Happs TV as a freelancer, and as a reporter at Hong Kong International Business Channel, Citizen News and Commercial Radio Hong Kong. She earned her Masters in Journalism at the University of Southern California. She has an interest in LGBT+, mental health and environmental issues.