EXPERTS from the University of the Philippines forecasted that the Philippines will reach 130,000 cases by end of August. Sadly, this week we already surpassed the 140,000-mark and it is just mid-August. We are now probably starting to ask ourselves, what went wrong? Many of us must have felt the last five months were not just about staying at home to avoid Covid-19 but more like a period for soul-searching.
From my end, I have received many messages from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), locally stranded individuals (LSIs), frontliners, employees and friends who are currently in isolation due to positive results. I can sense their frustration, fear, pain, anger and, most of all, desperation. The feelings are compounded by the fact that there are more questions than answers. And there’s hardly anyone to seek answers from.
For example, some OFWs in Bacolod said they were tested using wrong test kits so they had to do it all over again. On their second attempt, they missed the testing team because the transportation from their place of origin arrived late. Then they were made to wait for weeks before being given the results even when these were already available.
Another positive patient I know had to constantly call the hospital for his results because everyone in his batch already receive theirs a week before. A scared neighbor had to message me about a whole family in her neighborhood receiving information about their positive results and yet they were never transported to an isolation facility. A nurse had to message me about a business establishment whom he suspects to have many cases but continue to downplay the situation.
The list is growing long. And I never wished all this information to fall in my lap. But some friends use to call me the “patron saint of lost causes.” I am definitely no saint but, yes, a lost cause is my cup of tea. Now, I can just smile about it because indeed I have always supported the “lost” and those programs that are seemingly difficult to succeed.
As we go further through the abyss of this pandemic, another important question is, is there a Covid-19 minimum management standard per workplace or per sector, whether public or private offices, that are in place and are being followed? Everyone will probably say yes. But it is always easier said than applied.
To help design the process, if there is none yet, I made the following trigger questions for stakeholders that can eventually be used as frequently asked questions.
1. Upon the first sign of sickness (whether Covid or not), where can an employee go to be diagnosed? How many hours or days from symptoms should medical consultation happen?
2. If test is recommended, where can the employee go for testing? Who pays the testing?
3. After testing and prior to the release of results, is the employee asked to self-quarantine or is there a facility? Is the facility provided by the employer or paid by the employee or shouldered by both?
4. Once the employee has been recommended for testing, what is the protocol of the employer for contact tracing? Is there proper advice for all co-employees of the said employee who have been in contact with him or her to self-quarantine for 14 days (ideally)? Is there a system to monitor the contacts?
4. How many days are the results out? In the recent live feed of Dr. Maria Van Kherkove, World Health Organization Infectious Disease expert, said four days is too long and defeats the purpose of testing as a means to stop the spread.
5. Once the results are out, and it shows the employee is positive, what is the next step? How is treatment undertaken? Will the employer help?
6. When the results turn out as negative, what is the next step? Is there another set of testing? Where do they go?
7. When the employee results come out positive, is there a proper system to inform the other employees who have been in contact with said positive employee to also secure a test? How and where will they go?
8. If the employee is negative, what is the re-entry process to the workplace?
9. In this process flow - how is confidentiality maintained and balanced with the need to stop local workplace transmission?
10. In a workplace scenario, both the health and the job of the employee are at stake. What are the measures in place to lessen the impact?
For design thinking purposes, every question can produce many ideas that can be scaled into concepts and eventually into solutions. To gather ideas, we must collect insights from stakeholders. Suggested stakeholders are employees, employers, government, health care units of companies, among others. Once all trigger questions are answered, these parameters may become a use case for the development of proper information and communications systems.