Effective immediately, migrant workers are temporarily banned from changing employers, and employers are temporarily banned from moving migrant workers between factories as long as the level 3 COVID-19 alert remains in place, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday.
King Yuan Electronics (京元電子) on Thursday began conducting rapid COVID-19 tests on all of its about 7,300 employees after a cluster infection was confirmed among migrant workers at its manufacturing campus in Miaoli County.
King Yuan is a chip testing and packaging service provider based in Hsinchu City. Its migrant workers live in dormitories.
Photo courtesy of the Hsinchu County Government
As more migrant workers tested positive, the CECC on Friday dispatched Hospital and Social Welfare Organizations Administration Commission Director Wang Pi-sheng (王必勝), who is also deputy head of the CECC’s medical response division, and four Centers for Disease Control (CDC) physicians to set up a command center in Miaoli to help coordinate the tests and disease control measures.
As of Friday, 131 confirmed cases — 14 Taiwanese and 117 foreign nationals — had been reported in the King Yuan cluster.
Nine other confirmed cases were reported in another cluster infection among migrant workers at GreaTek Electronics Inc (超豐), also in Miaoli.
Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC, yesterday said 18 testing booths have been set up at King Yuan, with a combined capacity to test 350 to 500 people per hour.
He said 4,599 people had already been tested as of Friday and that the screening program was expected to be completed yesterday.
Enhanced measures would be taken to prevent the virus spreading further among Miaoli’s electronics companies, Chen said.
These include speeding up the tests, conducting risk assessment at workplaces and in dormitories, and instructing employees to isolate at home, or help them find suitable accommodation, he said.
The Miaoli command center includes specialists from the Ministry of Economic Affairs to help coordinate workplace arrangements and has asked Ministry of Labor officials to help manage the migrant workers’ issues, he said.
Deputy Minister of Labor Wang An-pang (王安邦) said that effective immediately, practically all transfers of migrant workers among employers are temporarily banned, including those working under contract and workers whose contracts have expired, as long as the level 3 COVID-19 alert is in effect.
Exceptions include migrant workers who are victims of violence, sexual harassment, sexual assault or human trafficking, he said, adding that such cases would be handled separately.
During the level 3 alert period, employers are also temporarily banned from moving migrant workers among their factories, Wang An-pang said.
His ministry has modified its migrant worker disease prevention guidelines and on Friday sent them to companies employing migrant workers, he said.
The labor ministry would work with local governments to inspect worker dormitories at companies employing more than 100 migrant workers and check if its disease prevention guidelines are being thoroughly implemented at companies with more than 500 migrant workers, he said.
The ministry has since May 17 been inspecting and supervising high-risk companies, including tech firms, care facilities, chain restaurants, wholesale markets, storage facilities and companies employing more than 51 migrant workers, he added.
Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs Chen Chern-chyi (陳正祺) said that more than 300 companies have contacted his ministry asking about how they can conduct COVID-19 rapid tests on their own, and a few have begun rapid screenings based on the CECC’s guidelines released on Sunday last week.
As the law requires that the tests be conducted by healthcare professionals, the companies have partnered with health examination centers, clinics or other healthcare facilities to conduct the tests, Chen Chern-chyi said.
The ministry can assist in partnering companies with healthcare facilities for screening tests, if needed, he added.
Employees who test positive in a rapid test must be reported to the local health department, placed in isolation and undergo a polymerase chain reaction test, Chen Chern-chyi added.
CALL FOR PEACE: Czech President Petr Pavel raised concerns about China’s military maneuvers in the Taiwan Strait and its ‘unfriendly action’ in the South China Sea The leaders of three diplomatic allies — Guatemala, Paraguay and Palau — on Tuesday voiced support for Taiwan’s inclusion in the UN on the first day of the UN General Debate in New York. In his address during the 78th UN General Assembly, Palauan President Surangel Whipps Jr urged the UN and all parties involved in cross-strait issues to exercise restraint and seek a peaceful resolution. “The well-being and prosperity of nations and their economies are intrinsically linked to global peace and stability,” he said. He also thanked partner nations such as Taiwan, Australia, Japan and the US for providing assistance
CROSS-STRAIT CONCERNS: At the same US Congress hearing, Mira Resnick said a US government shutdown could affect weapons sales and licenses to allies such as Taiwan A Chinese blockade of Taiwan would be a “monster risk” for Beijing and likely to fail, while a military invasion would be extremely difficult, senior Pentagon officials told the US Congress on Tuesday. Growing worries of a conflict come as China has ramped up military pressure on Taiwan, holding large-scale war games simulating a blockade on the nation, while conducting near-daily warplane incursions and sending Chinese vessels around its waters. US Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Ely Ratner said a blockade would be “a monster risk for the PRC [People’s Republic of China].” “It would likely not succeed, and it
‘HARASSMENT’: A record 103 Chinese warplanes were detected in 24 hours, posing severe challenges to security in the Taiwan Strait and the region, the ministry said Taiwan yesterday told China to stop its “destructive unilateral actions” after more than 100 Chinese warplanes and nine navy ships were detected in areas around the nation. The Ministry of National Defense (MND) described the number of warplanes detected in 24 hours as a “recent high,” while Beijing has so far refrained from issuing any official comment on the sorties. “Between the morning of September 17th to 18th, the Ministry of National Defense had detected a total of 103 Chinese aircraft, which was a recent high and has posed severe challenges to the security across the Taiwan Strait and in the region,”
IMPORTS: Fifty-four million imported eggs with a value of more than NT$200 million had to be destroyed, mostly because they expired in storage facilities Minister of Agriculture Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) last night announced that he would resign from his post. Local media on Sunday reported that Chen had resigned due to controversy over the ministry’s egg import program. Later that same evening, the Executive Yuan said that Premier Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) had asked the minister to stay on to resolve the issue. Chen Chi-chung last night made public his decision to resign on Facebook, saying that this time he would not be dissuaded. Chen Chi-chung earlier yesterday apologized for the furor surrounding the egg import program, but added that misinformation had made the problems worse. The government was