SRA tells sugar millers to protect workers from COVID-19

By Madelaine B. Miraflor

The Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) has told the country's sugar millers and producers to protect their workers from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) following reports that an employee working for a sugar mill in Luzon got infected by the highly contagious virus.

SRA Board Member Emilio Yulo said planters’ groups and sugar mills must put in place emergency protocols in light of the COVID-19 crisis.

“Take care of your workers, and educate your drivers to follow the necessary protocols,” Yulo said.
Right now, SRA is still validating reports that a sugar mill in Luzon was placed on lockdown for possible contamination.

In a phone interview, Yulo said this hasn’t been verified yet, but it doesn’t mean that sugar producers and millers should feel complacent.

“We want our stakeholders to conduct preventive measures as early as now especially that we don’t do mass testing in the country yet,” Yulo said, adding that sugar producers and millers should not solely rely on local government units (LGUs) and must put in place their own biosecurity measures.

“We need to put preventive measures in place to avoid any scenario related to the spread of the virus, especially as we are still at the height of the milling season. We all know that the local government or the health department can impose mandatory quarantine and even shutdown a mill,” he further said.

Two of the measures he is referring to are the frequent sanitation of delivery trucks and a non-contact system so that drivers do not have to get down from their trucks anymore.

Yulo said that mills could also emulate what the hospitals are doing at this time by “setting up a system of several responders”.

This means that if the first group of workers need to be quarantined, they will still have a second line of workers on standby so that operations are not hampered.

“We have to help each other out. We need our industry to survive these trying times. We need cooperation and prayers,” Yulo further said.