The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers Association (BGMEA) has refuted claims nearly 100 workers were infected with coronavirus (Covid-19) last month, with ten of those dying of the disease.

Bangladesh Garment Workers' Solidarity (BGWS) says 97 garment workers, employed across 24 districts, have been affected, including Dhaka, Narayanganj, and Gazipur, according to local publications.

The data is understood to have been compiled from various reports, including 25 newspapers, from 9 April to 7 May.

However, in a statement issued on Friday (8 May), the BGMEA said the report was "misleading" and based on data not properly verified.

"Whereas BGMEA has comprehensive data which is cross-checked with industrial police and related government offices every day. Based on which we can say until 7 May 2020 in Bangladesh a total of 12,425 people are infected with Covid-19 where in the last 24 hours, 706 people were identified as Covid affected patients. The total number of RMG workers who have been affected by Covid-19 is around 0.16%."

In a further statement yesterday (10 April), the BGMEA said it has deployed "multiple" audit teams for surprise factory visits to carry out health and safety monitoring, headed by six BGMEA board of directors, with reports evaluated every day.

On 10 May, 49 more factories were audited where conditions of 48 were found to be 'satisfactory', the BGMEA said. A total of 461 factories have been audited and 447 found to be 'satisfactory'. The 14 factories that require improvements were given an immediate corrective action plan in order to resume operations, or they will be reported to the necessary authority, it said.

Around 800 garment factories in Bangladesh resumed operations late last month after closing due to a government-ordered lockdown.

Rubana Huq, president of the BGMEA, said she came under pressure to reopen factories after the pandemic cost the industry more than US$3bn in orders that were cancelled or suspended.