Taiwan firm in HCMC improves Covid-19 safety measures after shutdown

By Huu Cong   April 17, 2020 | 02:37 am PT
Taiwan firm in HCMC improves Covid-19 safety measures after shutdown
Workers of Pouyuen Vietnam crowd a streetside market near their company after work in HCMC's Binh Tan District, April 9, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Khoa.
Authorities say footwear maker Pouyuen Vietnam Co. Ltd. can resume operations after extra measures taken to reduce Covid-19 risks.

The municipal Health Department arrived at this conclusion after an inspection of the premises at the Taiwanese-run firm in Binh Tan District.

The company, which is the city’s largest employer with more than 60,000 employees, resumed business Thursday after a two-day shutdown.

Officials said they found the footwear maker had taken various additional measures to minimize risk of Covid-19 infections.

It has scaled down its production to 30 percent, reduced by 90 percent the number of buses transporting workers and installed bulkheads at its canteen to prevent droplets contact between workers.

The officials calculated that the novel coronavirus infection risk indicator at the company has fallen to 42 percent Thursday from 81 percent last week.

However, they have asked the company to limit the number of workers using buses to below 1,000 a day and temporarily stop organizing night shifts. 

The company can continue operations, but must ensure the production process meets pandemic prevention criteria set by the city, the officials said.  

Earlier, city authorities had asked the company to temporarily halt operation from April 14-15 over safety concerns after its Covid-19 infection risk indicator rose to 91 percent on April 6 and 81 percent on April 9. Municipal regulations stipulate that companies with a Covid-19 infection risk indicator of more than 80 percent must be closed temporarily.

There are 10 metrics used to measure Covid-19 infection risks, including: the number of employees working in the same area at the same time; worker density measured per square meter in factories; the rate of employees washing hands when entering and leaving the company; the rate of employees wearing face masks while working; and the rate of employees having body temperatures checked before entering the company.

The company covers three shifts and uses over 800 vehicles for transporting workers to nearby provinces each day.

Local officials said that if an outbreak occurs at Pouyuen, the consequences would be severe because Covid-19 could spread to nearby businesses and HCMC’s four neighboring provinces of Long An, Tien Giang, Ben Tre and Tay Ninh.

Ho Chi Minh City, home to 13 million people, including migrants, has about 450,000 businesses employing 3.8 million workers.

Vietnam's southern metropolis is one of 12 localities, including Hanoi and Da Nang, that have to extend the social distancing campaign until April 22 under the latest directive from Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc. They are deemed to carry a high risk of Covid-29 infections spreading.

As of Friday, Vietnam had recorded 268 Covid-19 cases, of whom 198 have been discharged from hospitals.

Globally, the Covid-19 pandemic has a reported death count of 147,376 after spreading to 210 countries and territories.

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