VIETNAM : HCM CITY — As the Zika virus spreads, poor housing conditions increases the infection risks of workers at industrial zones.
So far, 23 people have tested positive for the disease in Việt Nam, and another six cases have been reported in the provinces of Khánh Hòa, Phú Yên, Bình Dương, Long An, Trà Vinh, and Đắk Lắk.
Seventeen people have tested positive for the Zika virus in HCM City as of Monday, according to the city-based Pasteur Institute.
The virus is transmitted by mosquitos which are now in peak season in many localities and the housing conditions of poor workers are ideal breeding grounds.
At an average rent of VNĐ300,000-400,000 (US$13.4-18) per month, most of the houses are small (about 2-3sq.m per person), with poor sanitary conditions and infrastructure.
In the southern province of Bình Dương, the rainy season is worsening the situation as many areas are often flooded.
Nguyễn Thị Nga, a worker from Dĩ An District, told the Lao Động (Labourer) newspaper that she was anxious about being infected with Zika virus as she is currently pregnant.
“I try to keep the house clean and tidy and not to use water tanks that provide favourable conditions for mosquitos to develop,” she said.
In HCM City, a number of housing areas for workers are located along channels, or near waste dumping sites, where mosquitos thrive.
A worker from the city’s Bình Tân District said it was difficult to keep his place clean.
“My house leaks whenever it rains. The house is built low and is often flooded. We hope local authorities will come to our living areas to spray chemicals and kill mosquito so that we will no longer have to worry about Zika,” he said.
To deal with the situation, many businesses plan to raise their employees’ awareness of the Zika virus and preventive measures.
Chairman of the trade union of Toàn Thắng Ltd Co in Bình Chiểu Industrial Zone in HCM City, Đinh Văn Giai, told the Lao Động newspaper that trade union officials have been studying the virus, its forms of transmission and preventive measures in order to pass on information to workers.
Trà Hùng Phát Production Ltd Co in Củ Chi District has also been guiding its workers to keep their living environment clean to keep away mosquitos, and have worked with local healthcare departments to spray mosquitoe- and larvae-killing chemicals.
On Sunday the Preventive Health Department confirmed the country’s first case of microcephaly, an abnormal smallness of the head, of a four-month-old child, saying it was likely related to Zika. The patient was found in the Central Highlands province of Đắk Lắk.