HONG KONG - A Hong Kong official appealed Tuesday to the Philippine government to allow Filipino workers to return to the Chinese territory after Manila's travel ban caused by the novel coronavirus outbreak left a number of them stranded in their home country.
In a message to ABS-CBN News, Philippine Consul General Raly Tejada said the request was conveyed by Hong Kong Labor Secretary Law Chi-Kwong when they met on Tuesday afternoon.
"Labor Secretary Law Chi-Kwong made strong representations for the Philippine government to allow Filipinos to return to Hong Kong," Tejada said.
"I conveyed that the consulate will immediately convey the Hong Kong government's request to Manila," he added.
Tejada said Law assured him Hong Kong "is doing its best to contain the disease, including stepping up border control measures with" mainland China and that "vigorous measures undertaken by Hong Kong to combat the disease will be unrelenting."
Tejada said the Hong Kong Immigration Department gave assurances as well that workers and other travelers affected by Manila's travel ban will be treated with special consideration.
Hong Kong is host to some 240,000 Filipino workers.
The Philippines has imposed a temporary travel ban on foreigners between Manila and mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau amid the spread of the 2019 n-CoV that has already killed more than 400 people and infected over 20,000 others.
While Filipino citizens and holders of permanent resident visa issued by the government are allowed to travel to the Philippines, subject to a 14-day quarantine immediately after arrival, they are, on the other hand, prohibited to fly to mainland China and its two territories.
Hong Kong has so far recorded 17 confirmed cases of the disease.
The outbreak, already declared by the World Health Organization as a global health emergency, originated from the Chinese city of Wuhan.