103 seafood factories closed in Vietnam due to nationwide COVID-19 epidemic
At least 103 seafood processing plants in southern Vietnam have been temporarily shuttered due to lockdowns imposed in response to the country’s largest-ever outbreak of COVID-19.
More than 178,000 residents have contracted the virus since 27 April, with most cases in the country’s south.
According to a report from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, 21 of the closed factories reported positive COVID-19 cases among their workers, Thanh Nien Online reported 5 August.
Since the middle of July, Vietnam’s government has instituted lockdowns in dozens of southern provinces and municipalities, and on 31 July, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh extended a federally mandated lockdowns in 19 provinces and cities, including Ho Chi Minh City – Vietnam’s main gateway for seafood exports – and the Mekong Delta, the country’s primary region for seafood production, by another two weeks through mid-August.
During the lockdowns, selected factories and farms are still allowed to operate, but their workers must work, eat, and sleep within the plants and farms and completely isolate from the public and their families. Only 82 seafood processing factories in Vietnam’s south have been able to meet the requirements and continue operations, according to the Agriculture Ministry’s report.
The Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) reported that capacity has been reduced by around half at the factories that have remained open, as they can only house between 30 and 50 percent of their total number of workers at their factories.
In its report, the Agriculture Ministry called on the central government and provincial officials to give priority in their vaccination programs to workers in seafood processing plants and other agriculture sectors. Failing to do so will result in disruption in local supply chain and exports, it said.
Vietnam Pangasius Association Chairman Duong Quoc Nghia said only one-fifth of the pangasius processing factories owned by the association’s members had been able to continue to operate during the lockdowns. He urged that priority for vaccinations be given to seafood workers, Vietnamnet reported 1 August.
So far, Vietnam – which has a population of nearly 100 million – has received more than 18 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine, with a majority supplied through COVAX, a distribution program led by the World Health Organization. Vietnam’s government estimated that it will reach herd immunity by vaccinating 70 percent of its population by the first quarter of 2022.
Photo courtesy of Godaco Seafood