A healthcare worker fills a syringe with the Moderna vaccine Covid-19. (Yonhap)
South Korean companies operating in virus-stricken Southeast Asian countries have asked for the government’s help in procuring COVID-19 vaccines for its workers there, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said Wednesday.
They also called for relaxed quarantine requirements on inbound business travel to Korea at a recent online meeting with ministry officials.
The meeting was organized as a number of Southeast Asian countries are reporting explosive surges in infections driven by the highly contagious delta variant, amid low and slow vaccination rates. Many of them are under new lockdowns.
As of Monday, Thailand reported 15,376 cases, and neighboring Malaysia reported a record 17,045 cases. Indonesia counted 28,228 new cases with 1,487 new deaths on the same day.
Although most South Korean companies in the region have been operating their manufacturing facilities as normal, some had to shut down and have incurred massive losses from production stops, the ministry said.
Normal factory operations are currently permitted in Vietnam if companies can house and feed workers on-site, instead of having them commute.
Indonesia also allows some manufacturers to run their factories when workers stay within factory compounds. Malaysia, however, has prohibited workers from staying and working on the premises. Only factories with operation permits are allowed to run at 60 percent capacity.
“The delta variant is sweeping across Southeast Asia, posing new threats to South Korean companies in the region. The Trade Ministry will try its best to resolve difficulties that South Korean companies are experiencing,” said Na Seung-sik, deputy minister of the Trade Ministry.
Attendees of the meeting included officials from the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency, Korea International Trade Association, Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Korea Semiconductor Industry Association, Korea Display Industry Association and Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association.
By Shim Woo-hyun (firstname.lastname@example.org