Furniture maker stops work


Temporary closure: The entrance to the Poh Huat Furniture Industries Sdn Bhd factory located at the Bukit Pasir industrial area in Muar. Disinfection of the premises will be conducted until Feb 3.

MUAR: Most of the 543 workers who tested positive for Covid-19 at Poh Huat Furniture Industries Sdn Bhd (PHFI) here displayed no symptoms, according to a company official.

The official, who declined to be named, said about 1,400 of its employees in the Bukit Pasir industrial area here underwent a Covid-19 screening on Jan 21 and results showed 543 of them to have contracted the virus, of whom 31 were locals.

“Only a small number of those found positive showed flu symptoms, ” he added.

Following the incident, the Muar health office ordered the company to temporarily close its premises from 4pm on Jan 25 until Feb 3 for disinfection to be carried out.

The board of directors of PHFI’s parent company, Poh Huat Resources Holdings Bhd, issued a statement yesterday, saying that it had temporarily suspended its Malaysian operations as advised by the Health Ministry.

The company said it voluntarily took the Covid-19 full screening exercise as a precautionary measure to contain and prevent the spread of the virus among its employees and the surrounding community.

“PHFI is cooperating and working closely with the Health Ministry to implement the mitigating steps to contain the spread of Covid-19 at the premises and safeguard the health of employees who may have been exposed to the virus.

“The group’s Vietnam operations are free of Covid-19-related incidents and remain in full operation, ” it added.

It is understood that following the results, the company also sent out a notice to its business partners informing them of its temporary closure and apologising for any inconvenience caused.

The company said the temporary closure was expected to result in a delay in the shipment of several orders to its customers in the United States.

“The management is currently in discussion with the affected customers for the rescheduling of delivery dates for these orders and expects there will not be any adverse impact on the group, ” it added.

The Muar Furniture Association, when contacted, declined to comment.

Meanwhile, Johor Baru Furniture Association chairman Albert Ng said the situation in Muar was worrying for the furniture manufacturing industry as many surrounding factories there had positive cases.

“The situation in Johor Baru is considered manageable because the industry here is not as big as that of Muar, which is the furniture hub of not only Johor but Malaysia as well.

“Our association has successfully negotiated for affordable prices for Covid-19 tests with health laboratories, so we urge our 230 member companies to take the opportunity to send their employees for tests for their safety as well as that of the community, ” he said.

Johor Health Department director Datuk Dr Aman Rabu said, without elaborating, that investigations were being carried out at PHFI.

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