Thai Union employee tests positive for coronavirus, threatening operations in Samut Sakhon

Published on
December 21, 2020

Thai Union announced on Monday, 21 December, that one of its employees in Samut Sakhon has tested positive for the coronavirus, amid a resurgence of infections in the Thai province.

The seafood processing hub, located west of Bangkok capital, had seen no infection for 250 days before first case was detected last week.

In a statement sent to the Stock Exchange of Thailand, Thai Union said the company is strictly following requirements from local authorities to contain the spread of the deadly virus. All of its plants remained open as of 21 December and the company is working to avoid any temporary suspension in production activities.

“However, should the unlikely worst-case scenario happen involving the total shutdown of all Thai Union Samut Sakhon plants for two weeks, this would have an impact of less than 2 percent of total revenue, and the company already has back up capacity to partially offset that,” it said.

CP Foods, another food giant in Thailand, also quickly reassured the public on Monday that the outbreaks in Samut Sakhon do not affect its production activities and its shrimp is free from the coronavirus.

“Since Samut Sakhon Province announced the lock down, all of the company’s workers are asked to stay inside the facility to reduce the risk of infection. Our measures aim at making sure that the consumers will receive safe food from a traceable source,” CP Foods Executive Vice President Pairoj Apiruknusit said in a statement.

The announcements by Thai Union and CP Foods came after local authorities over the weekend imposed a lockdown effective until 3 January due to a sudden surge of the coronavirus cases, as 548 people in Samut Sakhon tested positive for the virus. Most of the cases involved migrant workers from Myanmar, according to the Bangkok Post. The new outbreak was linked to a woman doing business in a shrimp market in the province. Thailand Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said the outbreak may have originated from migrant workers from Myanmar, a country which has endured a surging coronavirus positivity rate since September.

The seafood sector in Samut Sakhon employs thousands of migrant workers. The lockdown order is costing traders between THB 400 million and THB 500 million (USD 13.4 million and USD 16.7 million, EUR 11 million and EUR 13.6 million), with more damages being felt by companies that employ a greater percentage of migrant workers, Samut Sakhon Chamber of Commerce Chairwoman Amphai Harnkraiwilai told the Bangkok Post.

Photo courtesy of CP Foods

Reporting from Hanoi, Vietnam

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