Employees at Bole Lemi Industrial Park line up at the gate for temperature screening.

Bole Lemi Industrial Park, the first park developed by the Industrial Parks Development Corporation, has seen a spike in confirmed Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases last week.

The Park, which has 18,000 employees, has sent 88 of its employees to treatment centres within a week's time. The tests, conducted throughout the week, were initiated last Saturday after employees started showing up with symptoms at the clinic located in the Park.

The health centre, established close to four months ago, has 10 staff; a doctor, four nurses and five other workers. Samples were initially taken from there and returned three days later confirming the first 32 people with the virus. Following this, further tests were conducted from employees at other companies in the Park.

Results showed that 56 more people were confirmed from the samples taken last Wednesday. Almost all of the employees have been taken to a treatment centre in Tulu Dimtu, while one individual with underlying conditions has been taken to a treatment centre at Millennium Hall.

Symptoms of the employees included shortness of breath, cough, general weakness and joint and back pain. The Park had installed thermal cameras last April to detect body temperatures as a precautionary step toward containing the spread of COVID-19. However, temperatures taken from symptomatic employees showed normal levels.

A total of 1,400 employees gave samples on Saturday, Wednesday and Friday. Close to 600 samples were taken from individuals employed at Shints, a textile company employing 4,500 people and where most of the confirmed cases were found. Owned by Shin Textile Solutions, the company has also built dormitories for its employees on site. The dormitories are being disinfected daily following the tests the past week.

The COVID-19 tests, based on symptomatic selection and contact tracing, is expected to continue starting Monday, July 27, 2020, in collaboration with the EPHI, according to a person who is closely following the issue.

Even though masks are mandatory and regular temperature check-ups are happening throughout the day, employees dine and take public transportation en masse. Companies in the Park are operating in their normal way without cutting staff or working in shifts.

The Ethiopian Occupational Health & Safety Professionals compiled and recommended a guideline on the health and safety procedures following the onset of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country, according to Ansha Nega, a member of the Association and associate professor of public health at Addis Abeba University.

"We shared the recommendations with the International Labour Organisation, the Ministry of Labour & Social Affairs, as well as safety officers," said Ansha, who believes that there needs to be more aggressive work done. "But public health individuals need to be engaged at a strategic level."

The recommendations have also been sent out to the industrial parks in the country.

Existing and routine procedures will not be sufficient, according to the expert.

"We need to set emergency responses," she stressed. "The procedures should provide a guide as to what should be done at various points of intervention."

This includes methods on continuing smooth working operations in the sudden absence of an individual, according to her.

The standard of operations at workplaces should also be done in line with the relevant health bodies, according to the expert.

"We need to effectively use our limited resources when it comes to health professionals as well," she recommended.

Tinsae Yimam, general manager of Bole Lemi Industrial Park, and Shiferaw Solomon, deputy CEO of IPDC in charge of operations and industrial park management, did not respond to the inquiries from Fortune before the paper went to print.

PUBLISHED ON Jul 25,2020 [ VOL 21 , NO 1056]

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

Put your comments here

N.B: A submit button will appear once you fill out all the required fields.

Editors' Pick