HCM City factories seek to remain open by complying with COVID-prevention regime

July 26, 2021 - 08:22

Many HCM city companies that had to close down after some of their workers were found to have COVID-19 have got approval from authorities to reopen after their on-site lodging facilities for workers and epidemic prevention plans were verified.


Workers at a company in HCM City live temporarily in tents to ensure safety while maintaining production. — Photo tuoitre.vn

HCM CITY — Many HCM City companies that had to close down after some of their workers were found to be infected with COVID-19 have got approval from authorities to reopen after their on-site lodging facilities for workers and epidemic prevention plans were verified.

After closing down for almost 10 days as seven workers were found infected, Nidec Vietnam at the Saigon Hi-Tech Park with 6,000 employees has resumed operations though output is less than 10 per cent of normal.

With 475 employees, including security guards and canteen workers, staying on-site, the factory is focusing on producing important models and urgent orders.

Lưu Kim Hồng, chairman of the company's trade union, said after first detecting four infections on July 7, the company stopped production to isolate, trace and test all employees.

When the number of cases reached seven, the SHTP management board said it would only be allowed to resume operations after its plans to ensure epidemic prevention getting approval.

On July 12 the company submitted its plans, which included cutting operations by 80 per cent and changing the production process to ensure workers are more than two metres apart.

It has put up tents on its premises and 58 more bathrooms, and installed 10 washing machines and dryers each.

The dining tables are more than two metres apart and fitted with partitions. Employees have to regularly take PCR tests, and only those who test negative can work.

There are also quarantine areas for infected people and those who were in close contact with them.

Lê Bích Loan, deputy head of the SHTP management board, said a city appraisal team repeatedly visited the Nidec plant and has allowed a maximum of 500 people to live and work there for the moment.

J.K Vietnam Co., Ltd at the Tân Thuận Export Processing Zone, District 7, one of 29 businesses in the zone that had to stop operating from July 11 because of infections, resumed production on July 20 but at 25 per cent capacity.

The factory submitted a plan for epidemic prevention and production, and the city appraisal team checked and instructed it to instal more surveillance cameras in some areas to facilitate tracing if infections are found.

A day before it resumed operations 300 workers had to take a quick test before entering the workplace.

Three days later all workers had to take PCR tests, and subsequently the testing was done every week.

The company has leased a large hotel near the zone for its employees to stay.

According to a company executive, the biggest difficulty for factories seeking to reopen is that it takes time to get PCR test results, sometimes even three days.

"With the rapid spread of the new strain, if just one case is detected late, the factory faces the risk of remaining closed," he said, adding he expected the city’s PCR testing capacity to be further improved to support factories.

To ensure safety, the company’s management and COVID-prevention team constantly check and remind employees to strictly comply with the health ministry’s 5K safety regime.

According to HEPZA, some 618 enterprises with more than 57,000 employees at export processing zones and industrial parks have registered to remain open.

HEPZA has co-ordinated with related units to inspect 479 enterprises and found that 414 complied with the safety regulations.

The inspection teams said employees should stay at the workplace for no more than 28 days and companies must have plans to replace them with others.

HCM City, now the country’s coronavirus hotspot, has 1.6 million factory workers, with the 17 export processing zones, industrial parks and high-tech parks accounting for exactly a fifth.

According to data from HCM City trade union, more than 3,000 workers have been infected so far.

Nguyễn Hồng Tâm, deputy director in charge of the HCM City Centre for Disease Control, said after companies began to provide accommodation and food on-site, the number of infections at industrial parks and export processing zones has decreased sharply.

They record less than a dozen cases a day compared to a few hundred earlier. — VNS

In box

Centre for Disease Control tells businesses how

The HCM City Centre for Disease Control (HCDC) has issued a four-step guide for businesses to provide on-site staff accommodation so that they do not need to suspend operations amid the COVID-19 restrictions.

Step 1: Businesses at industrial parks, processing zones, the Saigon Hi-tech Park, and Quang Trung Software City are to submit their plans for preventive measures to their respective managements.

Step 2: The management boards will then compile a list to make an assessment.

Step 3: The HCDC will work with relevant parties to assess the accommodations and provide guidelines on preventive measures. Other factors such as the condition of the accommodation and fire safety will also be assessed.

Step 4: The accommodations will be deemed satisfactory or not, and instructions for improvement will be given.

Businesses not based in industrial parks will also have to go through the same process, but will submit their plans to the district People’s Committee or Thủ Đức City.

Businesses with approved plans that want to register more staff they will have to provide them with temporary accommodation elsewhere, where they will spend three days and be tested for COVID-19 on the first and third days before being allowed to enter their office site. — VNS



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