The government should test all migrant workers for COVID-19 using rapid screening tests and take blood samples monthly to check whether they have COVID-19 antibodies, National Taiwan University Children’s Hospital superintendent Huang Li-min (黃立民) said yesterday.
Huang’s comment came after three infection clusters involving mostly migrant workers were last week found at manufacturers in Hsinchu City and Miaoli County, where many of Taiwan’s largest technology companies have facilities.
The government must take full advantage of virus detection technology and available disease prevention staff to “get a handle on” the movements and health conditions of migrant workers, Huang said.
Photo: Tsai Cheng-min, Taipei Times
“It will also be important to conduct frequent testing on migrant workers, as they share dorm rooms,” he said.
Migrant workers are very important to the country’s production capacity, but so far only migrant caretakers who are in contact with elderly Taiwanese are eligible for COVID-19 vaccination, he said.
“Companies should have a strong interest in funding the vaccination of their migrant workers, which would ensure that production lines can operate uninterrupted,” he said.
Lin Meng-chih (林孟志), a physician at Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, said that local governments must help companies communicate pandemic measures and regulations to migrant workers, as there might be communication problems between workers and the company management due to lack of a common language.
Companies must also ensure that the measures are properly enforced, including mask wearing inside factories and offices, dividers on tables at company lunch rooms, and social distancing on company property, he said.
“Given the large number of migrant workers, the best option might be for local governments to take the initiative and match up companies with quarantine hotels for workers,” he said.
Meanwhile, Hsinchu Mayor Lin Chih-chien (林智堅) yesterday said that the city would work with the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation to set up rapid testing stations in Hsinchu and Miaoli County.
Companies in the city have been ordered to stop housing 100 or more workers in the same dormitory, and are prohibited from moving workers between factories, districts, shifts, counties or cities, he said.
Separately yesterday, Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦) said that Taoyuan plans to “build a line of defense” against the spread of COVID-19, adding that the city is between virus hot spots in Taipei and New Taipei City, and Hsinchu and Miaoli.
Taoyuan has implemented new guidelines to manage the more than 116,000 migrant workers there, including 25,000 caregivers, he said.
The guidelines follow measures that the Ministry of Labor introduced on Saturday, Cheng said.
The measures include the suspension of transfers of migrant workers to different factories or employers, as well staggered working hours, and schedules for meals and personal hygiene, he said.
The Taoyuan Department of Labor would within the next five days inspect whether companies are following the guidelines.
The city government would also help the 16 firms in the city that employ 500 or more migrant workers organize rapid screening for them, he said, adding that the testing would be paid for by the companies.
Taoyuan would also set up rapid screening sites at its industrial parks, after similar sites were set up at the Hsinchu Science Park on Saturday, Cheng said.
Seperately yesterday, Tainan Mayor Huang Wei-che (黃偉哲) said that rapid screening stations with a capacity of 1,500 tests per day would tomorrow be set up at the Southern Taiwan Science Park.
Dorms for migrant workers at 652 companies would be inspected, he said.
Additional reporting by Tsai Chang-sheng, Tsai Wen-chu and CNA
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