Customs has 41 employees with COVID-19

By Betheena Unite 

More than 40 Customs employees turned out positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) but all of them are asymptomatic, the Bureau of Customs bared Friday.

A total of 1,264 employees of the bureau of Customs had undergone rapid tests for the disease since the agency started testing its employees in April and 41 of them turned out positive.

But all these positive cases, Customs-Medical and Dental Division bared, “show no symptoms of the virus.”

All employees who turned positive for COVID-19 and those whom they had close contact with are now under self-quarantine for 14 days, Maronilla said while contact tracing activities for the confirmed cases are underway through the Customs Intelligence Group.

"All confirmed asymptomatic COVID-19 cases, as well as suspected ones, are being handled consistently under existing DOH (Department of Health) protocols," Maronilla said.

"We also exercise all precautionary measures such as wearing of face masks and gloves as well as the observance of physical distancing rules. We regularly disinfect our offices and we implement flexible working arrangements for our frontliners such as skeletal workforce schedules and work from home options," the assistant commissioner added.

All transactions in the bureau have been made online since the start of the pandemic to avoid physical contact with the stakeholders. Manual transactions within the bureau’s premises were discouraged to ensure the safety of both stakeholders and Customs employees.

"We are aware of how critical our role is in this current pandemic and so, while we praise and thank our frontliners for their dedicated and untiring service despite the daily risks, we also would like to assure the public that the Bureau of Customs’ highest priority is the health and safety of our own employees and that of our stakeholders. Protocols are in place and are strictly followed," Maronilla said.

One fatality due to the disease was recorded in the bureau two months ago. The Customs-Medical and Dental Division confirmed that the employee was known to have had an existing lung condition even before the virus outbreak.

The bureau said the testing of employees were conducted through its Medical and Dental Division with the support of the DOH and the Philippine Red Cross. (With a report from Ariel Fernandez)