Three Cebu mayors support random testing, decontamination of workplaces

CEBU CITY – The mayors of Talisay City, Consolacion and Minglanilla towns have endorsed two proposed measures under the Project “Balik Buhay” (PBB), which are randomized testing and suspension of business operations in companies with confirmed coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases to be included in the executive orders that the local government units (LGUs) will soon issue.

According to mayors Gerard Anthony Gullas Jr. of Talisay City, Joannes Alegado of Consolacion and Elanito Peña of Minglanilla, these two measures were reasonable because these will keep the employees safe at the workplaces.

Alegado said that by implementing randomized testing, employees could continue working, and the economy will continue to flourish with the LGUs funding the random testing.

The PBB is an initiative of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas (OPAV), LGUs, concerned national government agencies and the business sector that aims to serve as a road map to reopen the economy and businesses safely.

“This would also remind everybody that health protocols have to be followed and if there’s an employee who will test positive, it’s a signal that the health protocols (implemented) are inadequate.” Alegado said.

Gullas and Peña also agreed, and were willing to help implement as far as the PBB guidelines/protocols are concerned in one of the virtual press conferences organized and hosted by OPAV.

Gullas recalled that when Cebu City and Talisay City and other areas were placed under general community quarantine (GCQ), he got so worried, especially when the number of COVID-19 cases started to rise.  He added that Talisay City coordinated with the businesses in his area to establish a protocol on what to do if there’s a positive case present at the workplace.

According to Peña, other LGUs ccould adopt this recommendation, citing an incident in his Minglanilla when an employee of a mall was found infected with COVID-19, and that the LGU immediately coordinated with the mall owner and conducted contact tracing and decontamination of the mall.

The other PBB proposed guideline was the suspension of business operations if an employee tested positive of COVID-19 which the three mayors also endorsed.

Alegado said that this will discipline and remind the businessmen of their responsibility to their employees to avoid local transmission within the workplace.  She 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 massive contact tracing and forty employees were place under isolation.

Alegado believed that these two proposed measures were effective in containing the transmission of the virus.   Gullas and Peña wanted these clear protocols included in an executive order.

Under this proposal, work may only 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.    The company has to provide proof of compliance with the required Workplace Health Standards and has established proper Testing and Tracing Protocols.

For the workers, who were in contact with the COVID-19 positive worker,  they will be required to go on 14-day quarantine based on the company’s Testing and Tracing Protocols.

If the company is found to be negligent in implementing the Workplace Health Standards and proper Testing and Tracing Protocols, decontamination must be conducted immediately on the building, office, store or workplace.

These areas must be closed for 14 days or until all employees who had close contact with the COVID-19 positive employee shall have been traced and tested at a DOH-accredited laboratory at the company's expense, whichever is earlier.

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 Workplace Health Standards and proper Testing and Tracing Protocols.

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

The three mayors were among those who attended the presentation of PBB recently which cited the need for businesses to implement testing and strict health protocols to increase confidence within the business community.