Racism and xenophobia has no place in the 2019-nCov outbreak: Include migrants in the way out of the health crisis
The International Migrants Alliance (IMA) has taken into account the magnification of pre-existing vulnerabilities of migrant workers, as Asia, to wit, East Asia is currently under the grip of the corona virus problem.
國際移民聯盟(International Migrants Alliance, 下稱IMA) 關注到，由於亞洲在東亞地區受到新型冠狀病毒肆虐，這對移工帶來的危機正在擴大。
Last January 7, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared they have discovered a new virus strain, 2019-nCoV, a strain belonging to the coronavirus family. This followed reports from China on December 31 of several cases of pneumonia in the province of Wuhan, China. By January 30, 2020, WHO declared the 2019-nCoV coronavirus global, after the number of dead in China from the 2019-nCoV has risen to 170, with 7,771 cases reported and spreading to 31 provinces inside the country. As of February 5, China has reported 490 2019-nCoV related deaths.
世界衛生組織 (World Health Organization, WHO)(下稱世衛) 於2020年1月7日表示，發現了一種名為2019-nCoV 的新病毒，該病毒屬於冠狀病毒類別的其中一種。在此之前，中國曾於12月31日報導了中華人民共和國武漢市的一些肺炎病例。至2020年1月30日，中華人民共和國因肺炎而死亡的人數上升至170人，並有7,771個確診個案散佈在國內31個省。在此之後，世衛宣布2019-nCoV冠狀病毒為全球性疾病。截至2月5日，中華人民共和國已有490個新型冠狀病毒死亡個案的報告。
Many countries in Asia since January 22, 2020 have taken drastic steps to prevent the contagion. Some have increased health surveillance in ports of entry, while some have completely shut the borders they share with China, and cancelled all travel from China, Hong Kong and Macau.
With the crisis still ongoing, the health and welfare of affected migrants are placed in increasing precariousness. Many migrants cannot access local health care facilities in receiving countries, unless they pay the service or have existing health insurance. With meager salaries, the wiggle room for them to shell out payments to hospital care is tragically limited.
With health care facilities stretched to breaking points, local and migrants are both challenged in accessing appropriate health care. Racists and xenophobes are using the issue to further spread hate and accuse the migrants of leeching social services, when in fact migrants contribute to the local economy in many ways.
The case in Hong Kong, wherein personal protective equipment, like masks, are in short supply and prices are sky-high, with some local residents already complaining of limited supply and absurd prices, more so the migrant domestic workers, who barely have enough for their basic needs, as they send most of their salary as remittance to their families back home.
在香港，個人防護設備 (如口罩) 不但短缺且價格颷升，本地居民正在抱怨供應不足之餘價格亦荒謬；對於已將大部分工資滙給家人的移工來說，更是無法獲得足夠的基本防護所需。
The knee-jerk reaction of some governments, like the Philippines, has placed many migrants in potential job-loss situations. Migrants renewing their contract need to go back to the Philippines, but in this case, they have to stay for at least 14 days in self-quarantine before going back to their workplace. Employers who cannot wait will simply look for another domestic worker who can work immediately.
Double-standards are also rearing its ugly head. The Labour Department of Hong Kong announced that migrant domestic workers should stay at home rather than go out during their rest day, while such a policy does not apply to locals. In fact, migrant domestic workers go out 6 days a week to go to the market or run other errands for their employers. Racism and xenophobia have no place in society, especially in crisis situations.
The consular offices of some migrant-sending countries are blasé to the conditions of their constituency. While some have made public their effort to provide support for their constituents, countries like the Philippines state that they do not have the resources, despite asking mandatory health premiums for their nationals working outside of the Philippines.
We in the IMA seek that governments include the migrants in finding the way out of the health crisis. Include the migrants in the development of the health policies, and do not discriminate and impose double standards against the migrants. IMA members in HK and Macau have engaged their members in health education campaign to help in prevention, including raising necessary material support for the public health needs of the migrants.
Chairperson, International Migrants Alliance (IMA)
國際移民聯盟 (International Migrants Alliance, IMA) 主席