HCMC bolsters Covid-19 prevention at industrial zones

By Le Tuyet   May 18, 2021 | 05:31 am PT
In the wake of rising Covid-19 clusters in northern industrial zones, Ho Chi Minh City has conducted mass testing among workers and prepared for the worst-case scenario.

The Ho Chi Minh City Export Processing Zone and Industrial Park Authority (HEPZA) along with the municipal health sector have deployed Covid-19 prevention measures among workers.

Hua Quoc Hung, head of the HEPZA management board, said stronger prevention protocols have been rolled out since late last year at industrial parks, recently heightened as Vietnam deals with a new wave of Covid-19 community transmissions.

He said ongoing clusters at various industrial parks in the northern provinces of Bac Giang and Bac Ninh are a wake-up call for HCMC since many workers had traveled to different localities during the four-day Reunification Day and Labor Day holiday on April 30-May 3.

Since the holiday ended, 17,000 workers across the city have had their samples taken for coronavirus testing.

Last weekend, the city's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had collaborated with local authorities in Binh Tan District to test more than 200 workers at Taiwanese shoemaker Pouyuen Vietnam Co. Ltd., the city's biggest employer that uses more than 65,000 workers at the Tan Tao Industrial Park.

Workers chosen for the test are those that have visited Covid-hit areas in Vietnam or those bordering Cambodia and Laos, where Covid-19 community transmissions have been raging.

A week ago, Binh Tan had also sent medics over to test foreigners that had been brought into Vietnam recently to work for Pouyuen, as well as inspected their accommodation facilities to ensure they follow all protocols on self-quarantine.

Workers at Furukawa Automotive Parts Vietnam in the Tan Thuan Export Processing Zone of HCMCs District 7 wait for their turn to get the new coronavirus test May, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/An Phuong

Workers at Furukawa Automotive Parts Vietnam in Tan Thuan Export Processing Zone of HCMC's District 7 await their turn for new coronavirus testing in May, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/An Phuong.

Last week, HEPZA coordinated with health authorities in District 7 to run random tests among workers at Tan Thuan Export Processing Zone.

Hoang Xuan Thai, chairman of the worker union at Furukawa Automotive Parts Vietnam inside the zone, said the company has 7,000 workers, with 200 in various departments having been tested.

The city has 17 export processing zones, industrial parks and high-tech zones in which 1,500 companies are operating with 280,000 workers and 3,000 experts.

Aside from running tests, HEPZA has also sent delegations to inspect Covid-19 prevention measures at companies employing more than 500 workers.

Should Covid-19 be detected at an industrial zone, it has prepared plans on isolating and dealing with clusters to avoid cross infections as much as possible, it said.

Since the new wave of Covid-19 broke out in Vietnam on April 27, around 400 workers in industrial zones across eight cities and provinces have been infected, including 326 at four parks of northern Bac Giang Province, according to the Vietnam General Confederation of Labor.

Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam, head of the National Steering Committee for Covid-19 Prevention and Control, said last week "the most important places in Covid-19 prevention are hospitals and then factories and industrial zones.

"If infection clusters occur at industrial zones, they could disrupt production and supply chains, with the country's economy severely affected."

By gathering large numbers of workers in one place, factories and industrial parks face a high risk of becoming Covid hotspots, he said.

So far in this wave, HCMC has recorded just one Covid-19 patient on April 27 as a man in northern Ha Nam Province visiting the city.

However, on the morning of Tuesday, a local man living in Thu Duc City and working for an auditing company in District 3 contracted the virus, with the source of transmission unknown.

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