|Workers at PouYuen company have been at risk of infection, but stringent prevention measures are in place. Photo: Le Toan |
During the past few weeks, Ho Chi Minh City has been continuously detecting infections at industrial zones (IZs) and export processing zones (EPZs). Most alarmingly, on June 9, the Ho Chi Minh City Center for Disease Control (HCDC) warned of an F1 case at Taiwanese footwear company PouYuen Vietnam Co., Ltd. in Binh Tan district, and the biggest employer in the city with some 65,000 workers.
After receiving the notice, Binh Tan district spared no time to localise the potential source of infection to ensure workers’ safety and stabilise production at the company. Subsequently, the worker did turn out to have contracted COVID-19.
According to HCDC, because the company has been closely following pandemic protocols, the F1 worker did not come into contact with those working on other lines. Around 140 employees who worked on the same line were sent to isolation. Samples were collected from more than 300 workers on the fifth floor where the F1 worker was stationed and were requested to stay in isolation until test results were out.
Le Thi Ngoc Dung, Vice chairwoman of Binh Tan People’s Committee said, “As the largest employer in the city, PouYuen Vietnam is a key focus so the team returns once every two weeks to check compliance and promptly prevent infections in the community.”
On June 11, three F0 cases were detected at Vietnam Samho Co., Ltd. where 10,000 employees are working. Promptly, along with the isolation of infected cases, 84 people working together at three factories with these cases were sampled and isolated. The district’s health centre was also taking samples for testing about 3,500 workers at this company. Two days before the PouYuen incident, a worker at Furukawa Automotive Parts Vietnam Inc., which employs more than 7,000 workers in Tan Thuan EPZ in Ho Chi Minh City, was also diagnosed with COVID-19.
Immediately, 150 workers in closest contact with the worker on the production line were traced, tested, and directed to stay at home. HCDC had previously detected a COVID-19-suspicious case among samples collected on June 2 at Nidec Tosok Akiba Vietnam Co., Ltd.
As in all other cases, the Ho Chi Minh City Export Processing and Industrial Zones Authority (HEPZA) quickly traced and handled cases of suspected and actual infection to keep the pandemic at bay and allow enterprises to maintain operations.
To ensure uninterrupted production at IZs and EPZs, the city has directed employers to continuously assess pandemic risks at their factories. Moreover, apart from compulsory preventive measures, it is organising emergency drills at IZs and EPZs to ensure readiness. Nguyen Thi Hong Lien, manager of the Division of
Labour Management of HEPZA, said that 98 per cent of the 1,348 enterprises under the authority have signed a commitment to ensure COVID-19 prevention and control, and more than 60 per cent have assessed infection risks at their facilities.
Furthermore, all enterprises are asked to submit basic information of their employees to help authorities localise and trace potential COVID-19 infections at these zones. At the same time, the management of IZs and EPZs have to attend weekly online meetings with HEPZA to receive updates on the COVID-19 situation in their areas.
Nguyen Van Nen, Secretary of Ho Chi Minh City Party Committee, said, “In general, the pandemic in the city is still under control and is showing signs of slowing down. However, due to the appearance of new strains, control has to be more drastic and stronger.”
On June 9, Ho Chi Minh City Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs announced that it has proposed the city’s People’s Committee to roll out a support package for employees and employers affected by the pandemic. The package will be considered and a decision passed by the end of June.
The package is estimated to be worth more than VND1 trillion ($43.5 million), with the city budget contributing more than VND905 billion ($39.35 million), and the rest coming from the Vietnam Bank for Social Policies in Ho Chi Minh City for businesses that need loans to pay wages for their workers.
Likewise, according to Decision No.2606/QD-TLD of the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour, Ho Chi Minh City Federation of Labour is offering support for workers facing difficulties in the IZs and EPZs.
Specifically, F0 cases who are receiving treatment are supported with a maximum of VND3 million ($130), while F1 cases who must undergo medical isolation for 21 days at an isolation facility are supported with a maximum of VND1.5 million ($65).
Also, employees who have decided to undertake medical isolation at home as well as pregnant employees or those raising children under the age of 6, or employees who were forced to quit because their place of residence has been locked down, are supported with a maximum of VND500,000 ($22).