A Phnom Penh garment factory has been shut down for two weeks and thousands of workers have been ordered to take COVID-19 tests, with about 50 of their colleagues having already tested positive for the virus, officials said Thursday, as the garment sector vaccination drive moved into its second day.
The 3,000 staff at the Din Han Enterprise factory in Meanchey district were required by law to report for testing, City Hall spokesman Met Measpheakdey said, adding that they could face fines up to 5 million riel under the sub-decree issued last month to deal with efforts to contain the pandemic.
“[I] can confirm the case of Din Han factory, located in Stung Meanchey 3 commune, where nearly 50 workers are positive for COVID-19,” he said via voice message on Wednesday night, adding that health officials were stationed at the factory to take samples.
The outbreak in the Taiwanese-owned factory has been linked to a young woman who went for testing last week after having a fever, said Nao Huot, a representative of the Cambodian Union Federation at the factory.
After receiving the positive result on Saturday, health officials and the Labor Ministry worked to identify those who she had had contact with for testing, Mr Huot said.
“I just knew of 13 workers infected with COVID-19 at the factory … I did not receive this news yet,” he said, regarding the nearly 50 cases announced by City Hall.
An administrator at the factory who asked not to be named said that the factory had closed for two weeks on April 7.
“All workers were taken for samples and infected workers were sent to treatment,” the administrator said.
Preang Net, a 37-year-old sewing machine repairman, said he was surprised to be found positive and sent to the Grand Duke hotel for treatment on Wednesday.
“Now I still have energy and I can eat but I have a sore throat,” he said. “I heard that this disease is very cruel.”
Meanwhile, one worker at the D’Luxe International factory, which employs about 9,000 people in Pur Senchey district, tested positive for the virus last week.
Ny Dinet, 28, said that she worked under the woman who tested positive and was herself awaiting results after being tested on Thursday by health officials at the Din Han factory.
“First, I did not believe there was COVID-19 but now that I am confronted with it directly, I think it is real,” she told CamboJA.
Chhor Sonicole, an administrator at the factory, declined to comment.
With many workers cramming into the back of trucks to and from factories and then working at close quarters for long hours, the potential for an outbreak in the sector remains a concern, said Mann Seng Hak, deputy president of the Free Trade Union of Kingdom of Cambodia.
“There is concern over infection in the factory because workers can not keep social distancing and workers travel in crowded trucks,” he said, calling for workers to join the vaccination drive.
A Campaign to vaccinate Cambodia’s garment sector started in Phnom Penh on Wednesday, with thousands of injections given in major the city’s industrial zones, the Labor Ministry said, adding that it would spread to the provinces with the capacity to deliver 24,000 injections per day.
Cambodia reported 113 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday – 103 in Phnom Penh – taking the overall tally to 3028 cases, with 24 dead, while the February 20 cluster now has 2496 cases, the Health Ministry announced Thursday.