Coronavirus: China plastic factory shut down after asymptomatic worker tested positive
Date: Tuesday, March 3, 2020
Source: South China Morning Post
- Guofeng Plastic in Hefei in Anhui province was forced to shut down on Sunday, with over 500 people tested as a result of the confirmed case
- The latest work-related case underscores the difficulty China is facing to bring economic activity back to normal amid the outbreak of the coronavirus
One of China’s largest plastic producers was forced to shut down production and quarantine and test hundreds of employees after a worker was confirmed to be carrying the coronavirus despite showing no symptoms, Chinese media reported on Tuesday.
The municipal government of the city of Hefei, the capital of Anhui province in central China, released a statement on its official website on Monday reporting the case of the 43-year-old male employee at Guofeng Plastic, which is located in the city’s national hi-tech industrial development zone.
A total of 267 people living and working in two districts of Hefei who had close contact with the worker were also quarantined and tested negative for the virus, the statement said. An additional 269 employees also tested negative for the coronavirus before they could return to work.
The latest work-related work stoppage at Guofeng Plastic underscores the difficulty China is facing to bring economic activity back to normal amid the outbreak of the coronavirus, which has infected over 80,000 and killed nearly 3,000 people in China alone.
Shenzhen-listed Guofeng Plastic, which employs around 1,500 people, has an annual output of over 400,000 tonnes of plastic film, building materials and non-metallic materials for both domestic and overseas markets.
Both the management committee and Guofeng Plastic were not available for further comment on Tuesday.
There were no new confirmed cases of coronavirus in Hefei between Wednesday and Monday, according to the health commission of Anhui province.
“In accordance with relevant regulations issued by the epidemic, only suspected and confirmed cases of new coronary pneumonia will be announced to the public. Asymptomatic infection is not a case and need not be announced,” said Zeng Yixin, deputy head of China’s national health commission on February 14.
Asymptomatic infections are not reported daily, but if they start showing symptoms during quarantine, they are counted as confirmed cases, according to a post on Monday on the official WeChat account of the Hefei Health Commission.
A report from the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention analysed records of all of China’s reported cases of the virus from December 8 to February 11 and found that 1.2 per cent of patients confirmed to be infected showed no symptoms.
There is already evidence that a person showing no symptoms can pass the coronavirus to others – a fact that could make curbing the outbreak even more challenging.
At least seven other provinces – including Liaoning, Zhejiang, Henan and Hubei – have reported cases that are suspected to have been spread by people without symptoms, according to Chinese media reports.
One woman from Wuhan, which is the epicentre of the outbreak in Hubei province, is believed to have infected five relatives in Anyang, Henan province, even though she showed no symptoms.
A far higher portion of asymptomatic cases was found on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which remains quarantined in Yokohama, Japan, where 322 of 621 people tested positive but showed no symptoms.