Learning lessons from outbreaks last year, businesses in Vietnam that are key to economic productivity are working extra hard to ensure operations can be maintained as much as possible. VIR takes a look at measures being carried out in various industrial zones to prevent the spread.
|Vietnam’s cities and provinces are taking all precautions when it comes to pandemic prevention |
PROTECTION OF INDUSTRIES CRUCIAL AS LEADERS MOBILISE MEASURES
With new stricter and stronger measures to control COVID-19, Vietnam is ensuring safety for industrial zones as a way to prevent possible disruption in the local production and supply chains.
China’s Biel Crystae Vietnam is gearing up COVID-19 prevention activities to ensure production activities at Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Park (VSIP) Bac Ninh in the northern province of Bac Ninh. Biel Crystal is one of the largest glass suppliers for Apple and Samsung.
Company general director Khaw Chee Wee said, “The company established a steering board for COVID-19 prevention and control. Each division has one employee who is a member of the board. Moreover, the company also founded 43 COVID-19 safety teams and plans to deal with the pandemic.”
VSIP is one of 10 operating parks in Bac Ninh, employing over 36,000 labourers and attracting 100 businesses. To ensure safety, VSIP Bac Ninh already established a COVID-19 safety team, while suspending all parks, sport areas, outside gym sites, and others.
Bac Ninh reported new COVID-19 infections last week at Samsung Electronics Vietnam, Johnson Health Vietnam, and Canon Vietnam.
At the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control’s May 12 online meeting, local authorities of Danang, Bac Ninh, and Bac Giang said that they already identified high-risk areas, while hurrying up tracing, taking samples, and testing contacts of the positive cases.
Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam, who is also head of the steering committee, requested no block of transport or ban on trade in localities to facilitate business, and ordered the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) to closely work with cities and provinces. “If the pandemic breaks out in industrial zones (IZs), the production and supply chains could be broken, affecting the national economy.”
To further tighten control over the transmission, he asked the MoIT and the Ministry of Health to immediately organise training on COVID-19 prevention and fight in IZs to increase safety, and then build specific regulations and then popularise them in IZs in other cities and provinces.
Currently, Vietnam ranks 176th worldwide in terms of the total number of infections, and 214th out of 220 countries in the number of infections per 100-million population.
Vietnam now has 369 IZs and border-gate economic zones and export processing zones (EPZs) with a total number of 3.8 million labourers, and 700 operating industrial clusters employing 600,000 workers. As they gather a large number of people and have a closed manufacturing environment, it is one of the top priorities to ensure their safety.
Both IZs and EPZs play an important role in the country’s foreign direct investment attraction, making up 30-40 per cent of the total in recent years, according to statistics from the Ministry of Planning and Investment. The inflows in the processing and manufacturing sector in IZs and EPZs accounts for 70-80 per cent.
Projects in IZs and EPZs are also greatly contributing to promoting and expanding Vietnam’s export market, thus enabling the country to integrate into the global supply and value chains. The contribution to the country’s total export turnover among companies in IZs and EPZs has continued to rise, from 6 per cent in 1995 to 19 per cent in 2005, and to over 55 per cent annually between 2016 and 2020.
|In order to curb the spread of the pandemic, industrial areas are following government protocols in terms of large gatherings, wearing of masks, sanitising, and more besides |
PROTOCOLS TIGHTENED ACROSS INDUSTRIAL ZONES IN THE CAPITAL TO ENSURE SAFETY AND OPERATIONS
Chu Ngoc Anh, Chairman of Hanoi People’s Committee, has issued an urgent message on strengthening a number of measures to prevent COVID-19 spreading in industrial zones, export processing zones, industrial clusters, and medical treatment locations in Hanoi.
The capital has experienced new outbreaks, while in some neighbouring provinces COVID-19 cases have been recorded at a number of industrial zones (IZs) and manufacturing sites where workers and experts travel to and from Hanoi every day. This poses a high risk of infection in the community.
In order to promptly prevent the risk of infection and outbreak, Chairman Ngoc Anh requested Hanoi Industrial and Export Processing Zones Management Authority to immediately make a list of workers and experts in the nearby provinces with positive COVID-19 cases, to actively monitor when related cases appear. In addition, the management authority and businesses also actively develop pandemic prevention scenarios when new cases appear.
Dinh Quoc Toan, chairman of Hanoi Industrial and Export Processing Zones Management Authority’s Trade Union said that there are thousands of workers working in 17 IZs and export processing zones (EPZs) in Hanoi. Since the first cases appeared, the activities of companies in IZs have been collectively adjusted. Specifically, businesses have divided mealtimes in shifts to ensure a safe distance and avoid crowded people, in addition to implementing table partitions.
The trade unions of IZs and EPZs also built a scenario for a situation where of up to 1,000 infections occurring in an IZ, depending on the level to activate corresponding pandemic prevention solutions, from tracing and zoning to ensuring production support.
Toan added that at workers’ housing areas in Kim Chung commune of Hanoi’s Dong Anh district, many households have called on everyone to make a full medical declaration and contribute towards hand sanitiser for every elevator. The trade unions also suggested businesses continue to limit activities in large gatherings and suspend non-essential events during the outbreak.
Workers returning from infectious areas must declare health and perform home isolation according to regulations. Other cases must self-monitor their health, and if they show symptoms of cough, fever, or difficulty breathing they must immediately go to the hospital for examination and treatment.
DANANG WARNS OF PANDEMIC PREVENTION PUNISHMENT
Authorities in the central city of Danang last week tested 8,000 people at An Don Industrial Zone following detection of a suspected COVID-19 case at the zone’s Truong Minh Trading Service JSC.
As soon as the suspected case was detected, local authorities took swift measures on an urgent lockdown of the industrial zone (IZ) and required all IZ workers to take a COVID-19 test. As of May 13, nearly 11,500 testing samples related to the case were shown as negative while more than 30 employees tested positive.
Based in Son Tra district, the 50-hectare An Don IZ is home to 44 operating businesses, mainly in the fields of trade, services, logistics, software production, and telecommunications. The recent batch of COVID-19 cases, therefore, threatens to cause major impacts on the operation of IZ-based businesses.
According to Pham Truong Son, director of Danang High-tech Park and Industrial Zones Management Authority, since the coronavirus broke out in Vietnam more than a year ago, city-based IZs have been taking drastic measures on pandemic prevention; and city-based businesses have worked on diverse plans to meet all contingencies, as well as required their labourers to closely adhere to the Ministry of Health’s preventive measures.
“Businesses have attained valuable experience in dealing with COVID-19 implications from the previous outbreaks. Some units, however, were poorly prepared with pandemic prevention plans, or were too passive. We have made spot checks and warned businesses of their limitations in this regard. Our top target is to resolutely keep the pandemic out of IZs that could affect the business continuity,” said Son.
To minimise the COVID-19 threat at city-based IZs, Danang People’s Committee has mandated top leaders of IZ-based businesses to obey the procedures on pandemic prevention and take severe measures on violators. Authority leaders are required to communicate with businesses to reach consensus on supporting COVID-19 testing costs for labourers.
BAC GIANG’S IZS LEAVING NOTHING TO CHANCE
Almost all businesses in the northern province of Bac Giang are being proactive in implementing solutions to prevent the pandemic, and ensuring safety for workers.
Crystal Martin Vietnam Co., Ltd., located in Quang Chau Industrial Zone (IZ) in Viet Yen district, has built a smartphone app for employees to update information. The company’s cleaning staff disinfect twice a day, and spray with chloramine-B solution once a week.
Besides that, there are always staff on duty to measure body temperature, instruct workers to disinfect hands, make medical declarations, and keep a safe distance.
The company has approximately 9,000 local workers and over 40 foreign experts. Due to the pandemic, almost all of these experts have not been back home since early last year.
A company representative said that the company has asked its staff to strictly comply with regulations on making medical declarations and clean the working areas. It has focused on communications work, disseminating pandemic prevention regulations throughout the factory via loudspeakers twice a day. It has also regularly captured employee information to support timely reporting to local health authorities.
The company aims to maintain operations as normal. Orders are still stable to supply customers including Victoria’s Secret, H&M, Uniqlo, Puma, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Old Navy.
At JA Solar Vietnam Co., Ltd, also based in Quang Chau IZ, the spraying of disinfectants is carried out regularly in the lobbies, offices, and warehouses. In addition to inspection, at the main gate, medical staff regularly measures the temperature of the staff and workers in order to promptly detect any suspected cases. At the warehouses, there are notices on compliance with regulations on COVID-19 prevention and control.
JA Solar Vietnam still maintains its operation, and the company even has plans to expand the module manufacturing facility, thus the company is also issuing employment information with attractive salary offers.
Nguyen Xuan Ngoc, deputy director at Bac Giang Industrial Zones Management Authority said, “Our authority established messaging groups on Zalo at every zone to discuss and send daily assignments, as well as share latest documents from province leaders. Besides this, the authority continuously updates any other information for its members.”
Local authorities also increased communication via brochures, guide videos, and messages about pandemic prevention measures to help local businesses and workers live and work safely with the pandemic.
Moreover, they regularly inspect and supervise all prevention and control measures in the zones, while issuing documents to ask businesses to carry out their own measures.
HAIPHONG, QUANG NINH, AND HAI DUONG RAISE THEIR GAME IN COVID-19 PREVENTION AND FIGHT
Industrial zones in Haiphong, Quang Ninh, and Hai Duong have been actively carrying out more measures to keep workers safe and maintain business and production.
COVID-19 has again broken out within the society and in numerous production facilities, with some cases appearing in industrial zones (IZs). Quang Ninh Economic Zones Management Authority has thus released several documents directing IZs and businesses there to strictly comply with the regulations on pandemic prevention of the Ministry of Health and the provincial government.
Additionally, the management authority also supports businesses to receive foreign experts entering Vietnam. Around 1,455 foreigners are requested by 263 businesses, as submitted to Quang Ninh People’s Committee and the Ministry of Public Security. As of date, 1,067 of them in 211 businesses have been approved, of which 820 foreign experts have arrived through the Mong Cai international border gate and Noi Bai International Airport.
Pham Minh Phuong, director of Hai Duong Industrial Zones Management Authority said that IZ factories contain the highest risks of transmission as they are often crowded.
To develop the economy and prevent further the spread of the pandemic, the authority has deployed many measures enabling businesses to recover as soon as possible, including inspection teams established to monitor and manage possible infections, and businesses have been required to implement all requirements of local authorities in preventing COVID-19.
To keep IZs and economic zones (EZs) in Haiphong safe from the coronavirus, local authorities asked businesses to tighten monitoring of foreign experts arriving in Vietnam.
They have also encouraged workers to declare their medical status and that of their relatives, so that businesses can promptly take measures like zoning, isolating, and controlling the health crisis. During production, businesses have to maintain distancing of at least 1m.
There are around 160,000 local workers in Haiphong’s EZs and IZs, including 4,500 foreigners, and 30,000 local workers from Quang Ninh and Hai Duong.
“The number of workers from the neighbouring provinces is also high. If we isolate everyone coming from other provinces, production will be interrupted. So after the May holiday we asked local workers from pandemic areas to quarantine, with the remainder taking tests before returning. Leaders of businesses have to take the responsibility too,” said Le Trung Kien, director of Haiphong Economic Zones Management Authority.
SOUTHERN KEY ECONOMIC ZONES ON ALERT FOR NEW OUTBREAKS
Industrial zones in the southern key economic hubs are tightening COVID-19 pandemic preventive measures in the midst of a resurgence of infection cases.
Pham Van Cuong, deputy director at Dong Nai Industrial Zones (IZs) Management Authority, told VIR that the southern province has yet to record any community transmission cases. However, the latest COVID-19 cases in Vietnam are related to an Indian variant which can multiply faster and cause more damage than the original coronavirus. “In addition, there was a high number of people commuting in and out of the locality during the national holiday, many of whom came back from affected cities like Danang,” Cuong said. “This, coupled with a surge in new cases in neighbouring Cambodia and Laos, increases the risk of outbreak more than ever. Thus, local authorities and all companies in Dong Nai IZs have raised the alert to the highest level.”
He added that Dong Nai has developed some scenarios in case there is any infected cases in the province.
As of present, 41 countries and territories have a total of 1,190 investment projects in 32 IZs in Dong Nai, with the total registered capital at $24.3 billion.
Meanwhile, nearby Binh Duong province has sent documents requesting IZ operators and tenants to follow the guidelines by the government and the Ministry of Health (MoH) to combat the pandemic. The province has also launched communications programmes to business leaders, workers, and expatriates to raise awareness and protect themselves against the coronavirus.
A representative of Binh Duong Industrial Zones Management Authority said that the first wave of the pandemic caused disruption to both local and foreign companies in the locality. They faced numerous problems such as cancelled orders and a shortage of materials as well as foreign experts. This year, they have been more prepared to cope with the challenges from the latest resurgence of COVID-19.
He noted that IZs have high risks of infection given the density of thousands of workers. The infection spikes in Cambodia and Laos are also concerns for businesses.
Meanwhile, Ho Chi Minh City is channeling all of its resources to fight the latest resurgence. The risk for infection is from a number of different sources including hospitals, quarantine areas, airport and seaports, and neighbouring nations.
Speaking at last week’s meeting on COVID-19 prevention and control, Nguyen Thanh Phong, Chairman of Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee, requested the city’s Department of Health to prepare a plan in case the pandemic spread faster by developing another four quarantine zones to increase the total capacity to 10,000 beds in the city. The city is also preparing 40,000 test kits and buying 50,000 more to ensure testing capacity of 15,000 people per day.
Dao Xuan Duc, deputy director of Ho Chi Minh City Industrial and Export Processing Zones Authority (HEPZA), said that companies in local IZs are maintaining stable operations. Last week, HEPZA also collaborated with District 7 Medical Centre to deploy random testing for workers of Organ Needle Company in Tan Thuan Export Processing Zone. Furukawa Automotive Parts Vietnam Inc. will be the next company to test for the virus. HEPZA has collected nearly 17,000 samples.
Likewise, the four Mekong Delta provinces of An Giang, Dong Thap, Kien Giang, and Long An have been alerted as potential epicentres for an outbreak, as they are near the border with Cambodia. Last week, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh paid an inspection trip to the southwestern borders, monitoring anti-pandemic efforts and encouraging frontline forces of the border areas.
The PM requested development of field hospitals in An Giang and Dong Thap with the capacity of thousands of beds to prepare for the worst scenario of cross-border transmission. In particular, An Giang has a nearly 100km border with China, so the province is ramping up its field hospital construction.