Solidarity with frontline Coronavirus health workers in Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, frontline doctors and nurses faced with those affected by the Coronavirus have been forced to work with inadequate protection gear or precautions. The safety of these workers is key to ensuring the virus is defeated

PSI has sent a letter of solidarity with the Hong Kong Health Employees Alliance (HKHEA), who are taking industrial action in protest at the government's failure to ensure health and safety for these vital workers.

Workers, who are the frontline defence for our communities in responding to health emergencies, need to be assured the right to take industrial action if their health - and the public health - is put at undue risk.

The letter, addressed to Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lim, outlines how "workers have not received appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) nor have workers in public spaces been issued with adequate face masks"

Why public services are key to fighting CoronaVirus

A strong public health system is the best defence against outbreaks such as Coronavirus. Yet governments have been drastically cutting public health funding, including for disease control and prevention. Throwing money into public health emergencies when they happen is not enough. Investing ahead of time is the only way to ensure preparedness.

International guidelines established by ILO / WHO in relation to contagious epidemics, stipulates that workers have the right to remove themselves from a work situation that they have reasonable justification to believe presents an imminent and serious danger to their life or health.

Furthermore, the guidelines states that if a staff member exercises this right, he or she shall be protected from any undue consequences.

Check out PSI Health Officer Baba Aye's report on the Coronavirus outbreak, on the sidelines of the WHO executive board meeting.

Read the full letter of solidarity sent to the Hong Kong government via the attachment below