Thursday, June 24, 2021

Editorial: Workplace transmissions

BASED on the recent statements of Davao City Mayor Sara Z. Duterte-Carpio and health officials, the workplace is clearly becoming a superspreader in Covid-19 cases.

"Sobra tunga sa atong mga kaso (More than half of the cases) are outside transmission. So naa tay clustering nga nahitabo sa atong mga (we have clustering of cases in) workplaces," Dr. Ashley Lopez, Davao City Health Office (CHO) acting head, said in an interview on the 87.5 FM Davao City Disaster Radio on Wednesday, June 9.

Meanwhile, Davao City Assistant City Health Officer Dr. Marjorie Culas said in a virtual presser Monday morning, June 7, 2021, that a certain business process outsourcing (BPO) company has 403 positive cases after some 1,000 employees were swabbed during a surveillance swabbing.

Hypothetically, if the 403 employees still live with their respective families and there are three other family members, considering that the average size of a Filipino household is four, we are looking at a total of 1,612 possible infections (403 employees + 1,209 household members). That's a lot.

It was also alleged by a BPO employee that some of those who had close contact with Covid-19 patients are being allowed to work and roam around, which could have also contributed to a spike in Covid-19 cases.

Culas also said some BPOs are being uncooperative in the contact tracing efforts of the city.

"The reports have reached us nga may mga uncooperative na mga companies na (that some companies are uncooperative) as they [employees] are still roaming around kahit na F1 sila," Culas said.

Aside from BPOs, workplace transmissions are also happening at banks and government offices.

In response, the city government is implementing lockdowns for these companies to curb the spread of Covid-19.

"Mangayo lang pud ko og pasaylo ug pagsabot sa mga negosyante ug mga business establishments bahin aning lockdown (I would like to apologize and ask for the understanding of our business owners and establishments with our strict lockdown). That is the basic protocol that we should follow. Di man gud pwede nga high risk inyong kumpanya, daghan mo kaso, tapos pabay-an lang nato nga sulod-gawas atong empleyado ug kliyente (We cannot just let these companies that are under high risk to continuously operate and allow their employees and clients to roam around)," Lopez said.

At present, the city government has a policy that allows private and government offices to implement alternative work arrangements.

On March 10, 2021, Duterte-Carpio signed Executive Order (EO) 10 Series of 2021, known as “An Order For The Adoption Of Other Alternative Work Arrangements In Public And Private Offices Until After The State Of Public Calamity (Presidential Proclamation 1021 Series of 2020) Is Lifted Or A New Memorandum From the Civil Service Commission (CSC) Or The Department of Labor And Employment Is Issued.”

According to the executive order, the following alternative work arrangements can be implemented at government offices -- skeleton workforce, Work-from-home, and Staggered working hours. The management may also opt to implement a combination of the three work arrangements earlier mentioned. Private offices are also urged to do the same.

On top of this, offices must also be proactive in the implementation of minimum health standards and have backup plans in case there is an outbreak. The Department of Labor and Employment and the Department of Health has also issued recommendations on what offices can do to prevent an internal Covid-19 transmission.

With workplaces being a hotbed for Covid-19 transmissions, it is important for the management to be proactive with its Covid-19 response and follow minimum health standards.

Likewise, employees themselves must also be responsible for their actions. They too must adhere to minimum health standards whether they are at their office or outside their residences. They must also be proactive in how they respond when they found out they had close contact with someone who is a confirmed Covid-19 patient.

A lockdown is the last thing we want to happen for our office. Hence, taking all precautionary measures is a must.


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