Japanese shipbuilder Japan Marine United Corporation (JMU) has suspended some of its works in its Ariake yard in the southern island of Kyushu, after 23 of its employees contracted COVID-19.
It is the third known maritime COVID-19 cluster in Japan, after the outbreak on the cruise ship Diamond Princess in Yokohama and the cruise ship Costa Atlantica in Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ Nagasaki yard.
In a press statement on 27 July 2020, JMU said that the outbreak came to light two days before that, when two employees tested positive for the infectious and potentially fatal respiratory disease.
Over the next two days, 21 staff members were confirmed to have contracted COVID-19; all of them have been sent to local hospitals for treatment. The 23 employees represent about 2% of the 1,200 full-time employees at JMU’s Ariake facility, which builds very large crude carriers.
Ninety-six people who had close physical contact with the infected persons have been quarantined and asked to observe their health.
JMU told SAS, “Some of the production [in the Ariake facility] has already been discontinued, and the impact on production is being determined.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic began in late January, JMU took precautions by asking staff and visitors to wear face masks and wash their hands regularly. Staff were also working along staggered hours.
JMU said that it has disinfected and deep-cleaned its Ariake facility after the infection was confirmed.
The shipbuilder said, “We deeply apologise for any inconvenience caused to everyone involved. We will continue to take appropriate measures to prevent infections in accordance with the guidance of local governments and related government agencies.”