The Tân Thuận Processing and Exporting Zone in HCM City. Businesses in HCM City have been safely adapting to the pandemic, according to a panel held online on the Government portal on December 13. — VNA/VNS Photo
HCM CITY — Businesses in HCM City have been doing a good job adapting to the pandemic and ensuring safe production in the last several months, a panel of experts has said.
Speaking as part of a panel on the Government Web Portal on December 13, Đỗ Xuân Tuyên, Deputy Minister of Health, said the COVID outbreak in HCM City was under control although there were still complications.
The Ministry of Health has provided instructions for businesses on testing staff and how to deal with positive COVID-19 cases, and provinces and cities have been assisting local businesses in pandemic prevention measures.
Associate Professor Trần Hoàng Ngân, rector of the HCM City Institute for Development Studies, noted that the Government had offered a great deal of support to the city, including medical staff, vaccines and medicine.
Many local businesses maintained production by providing on-site accommodations and quickly resumed activities when the outbreak began to be under better control.
Nearly all of the 1,412 businesses in the city’s industrial parks and processing and exporting zones have resumed operation.
“With their workforce fully vaccinated, the city has been a lot more confident about recovery. Domestic and foreign businesses alike are adapting safely and flexibly to the pandemic,” Ngân said.
Businesses are now focusing on fulfilling overseas orders for winter and Christmas.
Trần Việt Anh, deputy chairman of the HCM City Business Association, said that many businesses struggled greatly but have now “realised the importance of re-structuring their operations to allow for both online and offline work”.
Businesses are now more prepared for COVID, and up to 90 per cent of local businesses have staff who can accurately test others for COVID, measure oxygen saturation, and identify COVID symptoms quickly.
Companies that have opened new production lines have even been willing to pay more for adjustments so that workers on the lines can stay two metres apart.
Lương Mai Anh, deputy head of the Health Environment Management Department under the Health Ministry, said that businesses had done a good job ensuring pandemic prevention and control at their workplace.
According to a report by the HCM City Centre for Disease Control on 1,000 local businesses, less than 10 per cent of workers who have come into close contact with positive cases have contracted COVID-19.
Living safely with pandemic
Ngân said that businesses should reinforce their own healthcare facilities and staff, offering areas to temporarily quarantine staff when needed.
“The central government and the Ministry of Health need to come up with strategies to help businesses be more confident in their recovery, without worrying about having to go back to strict social distancing or providing on-site accommodations. Living safely with the pandemic is a global trend.”
Businesses will continue to need tax reduction and lower interest rates on loans, and more investment in public infrastructure will help businesses reduce logistics costs.
Meanwhile, Trần Việt Anh of the city Business Association said that new factories should be built with pandemic prevention in mind, and that labour-intensive factories should be re-located far away from crowded urban areas.
Lương Mai Anh noted that businesses should prepare medical equipment and facilities, work closely with local authorities, carry out drills, and monitor workers’ adherence to preventive measures.
They also need to keep up-to-date with the new Omicron variant.
Deputy Minister of Health Đỗ Xuân Tuyên noted that fully vaccinated residents still face a risk of getting infected and spreading the virus, so production facilities and workers should not be complacent.
Even though fully vaccinated people will likely not require hospitalisation or become severe if they are infected, the risk still remains, especially for older people and people with certain health conditions.
“Moving forward, our pandemic prevention plan will focus on safe and flexible adaptation to keep the pandemic under control while ensuring socio-economic development,” he said.
HCM City, the country’s COVID epicentre, began reopening on October 1 after months of strict social distancing. VNS