Special Covid-19 testing rules for ‘racist’ Filipinos – Legislator, association

A Macau lawmaker today (Friday) accused authorities of racial discrimination for imposing a daily Covid-19 test on all Filipino citizens.

“It should be noted that it is unscientific and racially discriminatory for authorities to categorize risk groups ‘to carry out a daily test’ by simple ethnicity, rather than by their contact with high-risk groups or people living with them,” they wrote in a letter. to health authorities.

Health authorities announced on Thursday that all Filipino citizens, including residents of Macau with Philippine passports, have been designated as an at-risk group forced to undergo daily nucleic acid testing starting today.

In the letter, Ron Lam U Tou asks the authorities to reverse the ethnic classification of risk groups for daily tests.

He said the decision not only violates the principle of prevention and control, but is “such a simple and blunt restriction on ethnicity that it may also violate the International Convention on elimination of all forms of racial discrimination, which applies to Macau”.

The president of the Progressive Domestic Workers Union also called the new measure racist and questioned its logic.

“It’s racism and discrimination (…) If the government is serious, why only [target] Philippine passports? Does this just mean we are spreading the virus? Why is the virus only spread by the passport holder? Jassy Santos asked.

Yet on the day the decision was announced, the Consulate General of the Philippines in Macau called on Filipinos to cooperate with the resolve of the Macau authorities and avoid making a political case out of the situation.

“Let’s avoid making this order a political issue. We should see this as a health issue in the overall goals of officials to achieve the dynamic goal of ‘zero covid’,” says a note from the consulate signed by the head of the diplomatic mission, recalling that in the past Macao had already done the same during the pandemic to the citizens of Vietnam and Nepal.

Today, at a press conference, the authorities also reiterated this fact and denied any discrimination and stressed again that the decision is justified by the proportion of infected Filipino nationals in the total number of cases in the current epidemic. the last days.

On Thursday, the authorities explained that, out of more than 1,700 people infected, 171 are Filipinos and that the definition of this target group takes into account cultural reasons, which translate into regular meetings and activities between these nationals, although that Macau has been in partial lockdown for 11 days, having detected only 82 community cases since then.

Today at the press conference, they reported that in recent days, one in four cases is detected among Filipino citizens, who number around 30,000 in the territory.

Today, for the first time since mid-June, Macau announced that no cases had been detected in the local community.

Six other groups classified as at risk must be tested daily, such as domestic workers, who are generally of Filipino, Indonesian or Vietnamese origin.

Macau was hit last month by its worst outbreak since the start of the pandemic, which has infected more than 1,700 people and caused six deaths, prompting authorities to impose a partial lockdown on the territory, which is ends on Saturday, followed by a period of consolidation, still with mobility restrictions and the forced closure of services and many businesses.

Macau continues to require quarantine for those entering the territory, and several parts of the city are locked down. Thousands of people are still quarantined in government-designated hotels.

Andrew B. Reiter