Construction of Intel's 7nm-capable fab near the town of Leixlip in County Kildare, Ireland, was recently hit by a COVID-19 outbreak as approximately 70 out of 5,000 workers were infected. Intel and the Ireland's Department of Health are monitoring the situation and for now have no plans to halt the development. The Irish publication RTE first reported the news.
Unlike the majority of other building projects in Ireland, the construction of Intel's leading-edge fab near Leixlip was not stopped because of the pandemic and seasonal outbreaks, as the multi-billion dollar project is hugely important both for Ireland and Intel. Intel said that the situation remains under control and the construction remains operational.
It is difficult to predict how the COVID-19 outbreak at the site could affect construction schedule. Meanwhile, if the building is not complete on time, Intel and its equipment partners will have to store production equipment for the fab. This is not particularly easy as tools like EUV scanners have to be installed by third-party employees that have their own schedules that involve setting up tools for other semiconductor companies.
"We are working to support our construction team in whatever way we can – to understand what has happened in this situation and how it can be addressed with corrective measures," a spokesperson for Intel told RTE. "For all confirmed cases, contact tracing was conducted and any other workers who may have been exposed have been required to self-quarantine and monitor their health. Additional testing of workers at the construction site is being carried out and any affected areas are subject to deep cleaning and disinfection. We are strictly adhering to the advice of the public health authorities."
The People Before Profit Employment organization heavily criticized the decision not to halt development, called the incident a mass outbreak, and said that there had been over 150 infection cases. The group has demanded that construction to be halted and full testing to be carried out.
The Health and Safety Authority has not yet ordered to halt the country's largest development project ahead of the planned reopening of all construction by May 4.