Hong Kong curbs entry of pregnant mainlanders

By Joseph Li (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-01-17 07:30

HONG KONG: The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government will adopt new medical and immigration measures from February 1 to minimize the number of pregnant mainland women giving birth in the city.

Pregnant women from the mainland chat in a Hong Kong street in this file photo. [dayoo.com]
Under the new system, a mainland woman has to fix an appointment with a Hong Kong hospital in advance and undergo pre-delivery tests before she can avail of the maternity services.

Also, the Hospital Authority (HA) will raise the minimum fee for a 3-day, 2-night labor package for non-local women to HK$39,000 from February 1.

And those who don't make prior arrangements with the hospitals have to pay a surcharge of HK$9,000.

And most important of all, all fees must be paid at the time of the booking, and will not be refunded under any circumstances.

The HA will issue a certificate to non-local women after their bookings are confirmed.

The Immigration Department, for its part, will closely monitor non-local women in an advanced stage of pregnancy, at the arrival points. To minimize disputes, women pregnant for seven months or 28 weeks or more will be considered to be in an advanced stage of pregnancy.

The Hong Kong government departments announced the new measures at a joint press conference yesterday. Deputy Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food Patrick Nip said the government would ensure local pregnant women get proper and priority treatment.

"We aim to restrict the number of non-local pregnant women giving birth in Hong Kong to a level that can be supported by the local healthcare system," he said.

Director of HA's cluster services Cheung Wai-lun said a centralized booking system would be put in place to collect data and better prepare services. "There is no upper limit for the quota for local pregnant women, and they can use maternity services quite easily."

"But as the medical service is highly subsidized in Hong Kong, non-local pregnant women will have to pay the fee in full even if their husbands are Hong Kong residents."

The new booking system and priority treatment for local pregnant women have the full support of private hospitals in Hong Kong.

From February 1, pregnant mainland women suspected of entering Hong Kong to give birth will be asked by immigration officers to furnish their booking confirmation certificates with local hospitals, Assistant Director of Immigration David Chiu said. And those who fail to do so would be denied entry.

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