Metro Cebu mayors back random Covid-19 tests for workers

Metro Cebu mayors back random Covid-19 tests for workers

WORKERS’ RANDOM TESTS. Three mayors in Metro Cebu will adopt the measures hatched by the Project Balik Buhay of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas (OPAV) requiring businesses in Cebu to do random Covid-19 tests on their workers. This collaborative roadmap is aimed to safely reopen the economy in Cebu amid the lower community quarantine status. (Photo courtesy by Jun Nagac)

CEBU CITY – Local government leaders in Metro Cebu have backed measures requiring businesses to do random coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) tests on their workers and suspend their operations if an employee is found positive of the virus.

These measures are pushed by the Project Balik Buhay (PBB), a post-Covid, public-private collaborated roadmap for businesses to safely reopen, and are proposed to be included in the executive orders that will be issued by local government units (LGUs).

In the PBB guidelines, the random testing will be funded by the concerned LGU.

Consolacion Mayor Joannes Alegado said “it’s very reasonable for the LGU to conduct random testing in our establishments to keep the workers safe”.

Alegado said randomized testing will enable employees to continue working, thus helping the economy recover.

“This would also remind everybody that health protocols have to be followed. If there’s an employee who will test positive, it’s a signal that the health protocols (implemented) are inadequate,” he said during Thursday virtual interview hosted by the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas (OPAV), the main proponent of the PBB in collaboration with the business sector, LGUs, and other government agencies.

Mayor Gerard Anthony Gullas Jr. of Talisay and Mayor Elanito Peña of Minglanilla also expressed support for the guidelines.

Gullas recalled that when Cebu City, Talisay City and other areas were placed under general community quarantine, he was worried especially when Covid-19 cases started to rise.

He said they have coordinated with the businesses in his city to establish a protocol on what to do if there’s a positive case present in the workplace.

For his part, Peña said Minglanilla, along with other LGUs, can adopt this recommendation, citing an incident in his town where an employee of a mall was found infected with Covid-19.

When that happened, he said they coordinated with the mall owner and conducted contact tracing and decontamination of the mall.

Commenting on the proposed guideline to suspend business operations if a worker is found positive of the virus, Alegado said this will remind business owners of their responsibility to their employees.

He recalled that when two employees of a mall in Consolacion tested positive for the virus, they shut down the mall for 24 hours for decontamination and conducted contact tracing.

Gullas underscored the importance of having protocols for testing, contact tracing, and isolation not only in the community but also for businesses.

Under the PBB proposal, work can resume 24 hours after the decontamination of the workplace for workers who were not in contact with or exposed to the Covid-19 positive worker.

Meanwhile, the workers who were in contact with the Covid-19 positive worker are required to go on a 14-day quarantine based on the company’s testing and tracing protocols.

Employers are also required to submit a report to the LGU of the measures taken to contain the disease, and show proof of compliance with required health standards and testing and tracing measures.

The LGU will only allow reopening of the building, office, store or workplace upon submission of the proof of compliance. (PNA)

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