Tuna factory cases 'old news'

Tuna factory cases 'old news'

The Public Health Ministry has confirmed reports that more than 900 new Covid-19 cases found in a canned tuna factory in Samut Sakhon were found after 3,800 tests, but said the figure was old information which has already been included in previous reports.

The move came after reports on social media on Wednesday saying that there were more than 900 new Covid-19 cases found in a canned tuna factory in Samut Sakhon, sparking public panic.

Opas Karnkawinpong, director-general of the Department of Disease Control, confirmed the information and identified the factory as belonging to Pataya Food Group (Thailand).

But the figure was old and included in a total of new cases of more than 500 in Samut Sakhon province that the Centre for the Covid-19 Situation Administration made public a few days ago.

Pataya Food Group (Thailand) on Wednesday confirmed there were some infections among its employees. People who had been in close contact with them were isolated, the company said.

The company said its products, manufactured and distributed under the brand names Nautilus and Nautilus Light, are instant foods in sealed containers treated in over 110C heat and a pressure of 9 Psi, which kills Covid-19.

The company reassured consumers that its products are safe, saying Covid-19 cannot survive heat and can be killed when cooked at temperatures higher than 70C. The Fisheries Department chief earlier assured consumers the virus is not transmitted through cold-blooded aquatic animals and that strict sanitary measures are in place for fishing crews and food processing plants.

The world's top canned tuna producer, Thai Union Group, said yesterday its factories were continuing to operate normally after 69 out of more than 23,000 workers at its plants located southwest of Bangkok tested positive for Covid-19.

Thai Union Group CEO Thiraphong Chansiri said that as of Tuesday, more than 85% of the company's employees (23,630 out of 27,552 employees) in Samut Sakhon were tested -- with just 69 being confirmed as positive by PCR testing.

Mr Thiraphong said the company had guidelines to take care of workers and put in place tight measures to deal with the Covid-19 disease. He said the 69 infected employees have been quarantined and if they show any symptoms, they will be treated as deemed appropriate by authorities. "Each of our employees in Samut Sakhon will receive a Covid-19 test. This is to ensure the health and safety of our people, regardless of age, sex and nationality, while ensuring the continuity of our operations," he said.

The company limits staff movement within factories and has told staff working in support functions to work from home. All Thai Union's factories remain open and are operational, but in-person meetings for employees, contractors and visitors have been cut to essential business only.

Chief of the Samut Sakhon provincial public health department, Naresrit Kadthasima, said the provincial public health department is focused on testing workers at over 100 large plants and would complete random testing in one week.

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