Covid battle focus turns to factories

Health workers collect nasal swabs from people living and working near factories in Bang Khunthian district, Bangkok. Covid-19 is spreading
Health workers collect nasal swabs from people living and working near factories in Bang Khunthian district, Bangkok. Covid-19 is spreading “relentlessly” in factories, health officials said on Wednesday. (Photo: Pornprom Satrabhaya)

The fight against Covid-19 is focusing on poor enforcement of prevention measures at factories, where the virus is spreading “relentlessly”.

Apisamai Srirangson, spokeswoman for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, said on Wednesday that since April 1 Covid-19 infections at factories producing a wide range of products had been confirmed in 27 provinces.

They were in Phitsanulok, Nakhon Sawan, Nakhon Nayok, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Ayutthaya, Lop Buri, Saraburi, Nakhon Pathom, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Phetchaburi, Ratchaburi, Samut Songkhram, Samut Sakhon, Suphan Buri, Chachoengsao, Chon Buri, Prachin Buri, Rayong, Samut Prakan, Nakhon Ratchasima, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Ranong, Trang, Pattani, Songkhla and Bangkok.

They were making ice, sauce, snacks, auto parts, processed chicken, canned food, electronic products, gloves, medical instruments, aluminium products and glassware.

“The spread seems relentless and CCSA is concerned about disease control measures at factories,” Dr Apisamai said.

The virus was spreading at factories where many migrant workers were employed. In addition to Bangkok and nearby provinces, factories in Saraburi, Chachoengsao, Chon Buri and Trang had more than 50 new Covid-19 cases a day over the past two weeks.

Ayutthaya and Rayong logged 10-50 new cases each at local factories, Factories with infections but fewer than 10 daily cases were in Lampang, Lamphun, Lop Buri, Prachin Buri, Ratchaburi and Samut Songkhram over the same period.

Dr Apisamai said that on Tuesday Nonthaburi reported a new cluster of 19 cases at a glass and aluminium company in Sai Noi district, possibly linked to infections at construction workers’ camps, and another new cluster of six cases at an aluminium company in Bang Bua Thong district.

Samut Prakan had three new clusters – 26 cases at a plastic hanger company in Phra Pradaeng district, eight at a cloth factory in Muang district and another eight at a sauce factory also in Muang district.

Pathum Thani had a new cluster of 78 cases at a machinery import company in Lat Lum Kaeo district.

In Ayutthaya, a new cluster with seven cases was confirmed at an electronic parts company in Uthai district.

Samut Sakhon logged a new cluster of 23 cases at a frozen seafood company in Muang district.

Dr Apisamai said that of 64,038 factories nationwide, 8,123 conducted self-evaluation of their disease control measures. She said 2,241 of the factories each had more than 200 employees and 656 factories did not meet disease control standards.

The Health Department and the Industry Ministry would inspect all large factories this month, concentrating on food factories and those with substandard disease control measures.

“All factories must conduct self-evaluation via the Thai Stop Covid Plus website and workers must daily evaluate their health at the Thai Save Thai website before going to work,” Dr Apisamai said.

Officials would offer advice to management at premises with poor disease control, she said.

She also asked local administrative organisations and provincial governors to make sure that local factories complied strictly with disease control measures.