Samut Prakan firm marks virus milestone
A small factory in Samut Prakan's Pak Nam district has managed to get through 100 days without a single Covid-19 infection despite the fact it is located in the dark red zone.
It deploys tough Covid-19 measures including weekly rapid antigen tests, an improved ventilation system, strict mask-wearing and social distancing. Back in June, Chaiyuth Tangsurakit, 35, partner and project developer at T S K Holding Company in Pak Nam, Samut Prakan, was worried about the future of his factory when 14 employees, half the total, contracted coronavirus and two were severely ill.
Today, he is relieved as his factory has been free of new cases of Covid-19 for over 100 days. The factory has been able to sell its textile products to customers without interruption. "I'd like the government, private sector and other factories to become active in preventing the spread of Covid-19, take preventive measures seriously and aim at eliminating Covid-19 from society together," Mr Chaiyuth said.
The factory followed the strict measures recommended by ML Rangsithorn Bhanubandh, spokesman for Zero Covid Thailand -- an information resource that promotes science-based communication to eliminate Covid-19 in Thailand; and Tanasak Pheunghua, an innovation consultant and owner of the AerosolVirus Facebook page, who visited his factory and helped set up the system in July.
Active testing using saliva-based antigen rapid tests was conducted with all employees. "In case of a limited budget and resources for antigen test kits, each factory might divide employees into groups of five people, and test just one of the five every week. "They must take the test before coming to work and only those with negative results can come to work. If the result is positive, all members of the department must be tested and enter isolation," ML Rangsithorn said.
Those with positive results would receive relief kits and be registered for care, he added. All employees of the TSK factory receive a pack of N95/KN95/KF94 masks each month. They are required to wear the mask at all times at work and advised to change the mask once every 3-5 days. Staff are required to keep two metres apart as they observe social distancing and are urged to use other ways to communicate such as walkie-talkies or mobile phones.
Zero Covid Thailand checked the factory ventilation and advised on improvements. Windows must be open, ventilation fans, and air purifiers with HEPA filters provided.
A finger scanning system was replaced with a face scan and QR code, Mr Tanasak said. New schedules were introduced for break and lunchtime. Time intervals are set to leave time for the air to ventilate before new groups of employees enter a room. Some employees worked from home.
"Air ventilation is so important. The risks would be high in any poorly ventilated building if there is a Covid-infected person," he said.