Stay-at-work strategy boomerangs on factories as Covid clusters appear

By Phuong Anh, Thi Ha   August 1, 2021 | 07:21 am GMT+7
Stay-at-work strategy boomerangs on factories as Covid clusters appear
Temporary accommodation for Vissan employees staying on at their workplace. Photo courtesy of Vissan.
Several enterprises that applied the stay-at-work model over the past month have seen it backfire with more and more Covid-19 infections appearing in their factories.

On June 28, leading food producer Vissan started to apply the stay-at-work model, frequently testing workers for Covid-19. Close to three weeks after, in the fourth round of testing, 19 infections were found.

Vissan said the coronavirus might infected employees who have had contacts with people who venture out, like salespersons and deliverymen, thus spreading within the factories.

Twelve days after implementing the stay-at-work model, garment maker Viet Thang Jeans also found 19 of 196 workers infected with the novel coronavirus. After contact tracing, the company discovered that a person who sold fruit juice to the workers over the factory’s fence had contracted Covid-19 eight days earlier.

Nguyen Phuc, vice president of the Binh Duong Furniture Association, said Covid-19 could have penetrated stay-at-work factories because some people in charge of import-export, transport or meal preparation had contact with people outside, and initial rapid tests might have not been reliable.

"The accuracy of rapid tests is 80-90 percent. Even if the accuracy rate is 95 percent, among 100 workers, five can get the disease. If so, the whole factory will become infected in a week," Phuc said, proposing that the stay-at-work model be continued only when the spread is moderate and not too rampant.

Furthermore, after detecting Covid-19 infections and suspects, firms have found it hard to send them to concentrated quarantine camps. As of July 23, Vissan had quarantined 43 confirmed cases and hundreds of suspected ones within its premises. Only after the company called out for help did local relevant agencies have the workers sent to quarantine camps.

A special logistics team of electronics part producer Estec Vina in the southern province of Binh Duong makes accommodation arrangements for 207 Covid-19 infected people. Photo by VnExpress/An Phuong.

A special logistics team of electronics part producer Estec Vina in the southern province of Binh Duong makes accommodation arrangements for 207 Covid-19 infected people. Photo by VnExpress/An Phuong.

Nguyen Thi Tuyet Mai, vice general secretary of the Vietnam Textile & Apparel Association, said some 3 percent of garment and textile companies have applied the stay-at-work mode, and they were struggling to take care of infected workers quarantined in their production areas.

"We know that relevant agencies also have big headache because of the strong outbreaks now. But please support and pay attention to enterprises because they are trying hard to maintain production," she said.

According to Phuc, if infected workers are not taken care of at designated facilities outside factories, their colleagues will feel uneasy. If a certain person provokes workers to cause disorder, the factories will face many risks, he said.

Many enterprises do not dare to apply the stay-at-work model now because of big risks and responsibilities, and those that have already done so plan to reduce the number of workers, or even suspend production, Phuc said, noting that they still have to pay Covid-19 test costs before sending workers back home.

Many companies have proposed the government prioritize early vaccination for workers, especially those at stay-at-work factories. "They need to be vaccinated urgently," Phuc stated.

Workers should be vaccinated in such progression (from factories to relevant facilities and sections such as transport and retail) that leave no loopholes for the coronavirus to enter to production chains; and the stay-at-work model should be adjusted as the pandemic spreads rampantly in the southern region, he added.

As of Thursday noon, 150 enterprises in the southern province of Binh Duong and nine industrial complexes in the southern province of Tien Giang had said they would suspend the stay-at-work model after detecting many Covid-19 cases.

More than three months into the new wave, Vietnam has recorded 146,198 community infections in 62 of its 63 cities and provinces.

 
 
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