HCMC industrial parks await guidance to operate Covid-19 facilities

By Le Tuyet   November 25, 2021 | 08:01 pm PT
HCMC industrial parks await guidance to operate Covid-19 facilities
A medical worker checks equipment at a Covid-19 quarantine facility in Linh Trung 2 Export Processing Zone (EPZ) in Thu Duc, HCMC, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Le Tuyet
Without operating regulations, facilities to quarantine and treat Covid-19 patients are idling in HCMC’s industrial parks even as several facilities in the city are overloaded.

After two months of preparation, the Linh Trung 2 Export Processing Zone (EPZ) in Thu Duc City opened on October 12 its facility for quarantining and treating Covid-19 patients with mild symptoms.

Costing VND3.7 billion (more than $160,000), the facility has an area of 1,500 square meters and 250 beds. It needs medical equipment.

The facility stands idle despite the park recording many Covid-19 cases among workers.

Nguyen Van Be, chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City Export Processing and Industrial Zones Authority (HEPZA) Business Association, said that the investor was pouring more money to equip the facility with a medical oxygen system.

"Everything is ready and what they need now are doctors and drugs."

Those two things are out of the investor and the EPZ’s hands, Be said.

The HEPZA has informed authorities of the situation several times, but the city is yet to devise regulations for running such facilities.

Since HCMC reopened its economy on October 1 after undergoing various levels of Covid-19 restrictions for four months, 1,500 production facilities with 320,000 laborers at 17 industrial parks (IP), export processing zones and high-tech parks have resumed operations.

Until now, more than 2,800 workers have got infected with the novel coronavirus after getting back to work. They have been treated at different places across the city.

With some city-run treatment facilities reporting overloads, many workers have had to stay back at the factories and wait to be hospitalized.

Apart from the Linh Trung 2 EPZ, Dong Nam IP in Cu Chi District and Tan Thuan EPZ in District 7 have also set up facilities to quarantine and treat Covid-19 patients with mild symptoms, as requested by the city's authorities. All the facilities are awaiting guidance and assistance from the city to start operation.

Be of HEPZA said 10 IPs in the city have plans to set up such facilities, but "without a set of regulations, they are now quite confused."

The operating regulations should cover the responsibilities of both the city authorities and the IP/EPZs, he said.

When businesses are investing in Covid-19 treatment facilities, authorities need to participate in getting them operational, providing doctors and medicines, he added.

Hua Quoc Hung, head of the HEPZA Management Board, said that in order for Covid-19 facilities in IPs and EPZs to run, the municipal Health Department should assign a hospital or a healthcare unit in the pertaining districts to support them.

With the number of Covid-19 cases rising, HCMC health authorities had said last week they want to reopen Covid-19 quarantine facilities that had been closed earlier.

Nguyen Hong Tam, director of the HCMC Center for Disease Control (CDC), said that the rise in numbers was mainly caused by workers returning to industrial parks.

At the 17 industrial parks in the city, the number of new infections has averaged 50-70 a day.

A spokesperson for Pouyuen Vietnam in Binh Tan District said infections have been detected at the factory after workers began to return, and many of them wish to go to quarantine facilities since their living quarters are unsafe for isolation.

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