The Quezon City government has established that recent COVID-19 infections in the city were most commonly transmitted from the workplace.
The infections in the workplace then are further spread in households when the affected employee goes home from work.
According to a report by the city’s Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance Unit (CESU), of the 722 positive cases from February 28 to March 13 ,2021, 104 cases or 14 percent of them occurred in workplaces with many employees.
Household, meanwhile, remains to be the most common exposure setting, where 256 cases or 35 percent has occurred.
“Reports showed that household transmission stems from one member of the household acquiring the virus from his workplace,” said Mayor Joy Belmonte.
“We have instructed our departments to closely look into workplaces and check if they still adhere to our health protocols. Employers must do all they could to minimize risks among their employees, especially essential workers, so they won’t bring the virus home to their families,” Belmonte added.
Under the supplemental guidelines issued by the local government on March 14, 2021, Belmonte required establishments in Quezon City to create a dedicated COVID-19 taskforce that will implement prevention, detection contact tracing, isolation, and management strategies of their company, office, or store, if feasible.
They must provide transportation alternatives for employees, as far as practicable, to reduce exposure on their daily commute.
Establishments must also provide separate entrances and exits to reduce mingling of foot traffic and to place hand sanitizing stations and a contact tracing log, KyusiPass as far as feasible, at each entrance.
Employers should refuse entry to persons without face masks and face shields. Face masks and face shields must be worn together at all times inside the establishment, in so far as practicable.
Foot traffic inside an establishment should be one-way, as guided by floor markers or other appropriate signage.
Furniture and office equipment must be re-arranged to provide minimum distance of two meters between each workstation. If feasible, improvised dividers or acrylic barriers, especially in retail and customer-facing positions, should be installed.
If practicable, employees should have lunch or breaks individually at their desks or only with employees from the same workgroup or department.
The guidelines also tasked workplaces to implement alternative work schedules, lessening the number of employees inside the establishment at any time, as well as conduct frequent and thorough disinfection of high-touch objects like buttons, railings, counters, and door handles.
Equipment used by multiple people, such as microphones, must be disinfected in between uses. Use of ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) devices is strongly recommended.
All employees and personnel must wash their hands at least once per hour, and after every encounter with a guest or client.
Belmonte said persons exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, such as fever, body aches, and difficulty breathing must immediately be placed on sick leave and not be allowed to report for work.
Meanwhile, persons who exhibit these symptoms while in the workplace should be promptly isolated in accordance with Department of Health Memorandum No. 2020-0439 dated October 6, 2020 (Omnibus Guidelines on Prevention, Detection, Isolation, Treatment and Reintegration Strategies for COVID-19);
On the other hand, employees that were quarantined due to a positive COVID-19 test result, or due to close contact with a positive case, should have a certificate of completion of quarantine from their Barangay before they may be allowed to return to work.
Establishments are also tasked to report any confirmed positive COVID-19 cases among their staff or clients to the CESU via phone (02-8703-2759 or 02-8703-4398) or through email ([email protected]).
“If an employee is showing symptoms of COVID-19 or come in close contact with a COVID-19 positive patient, then they should be immediately brought to our attention,” said CESU chief Dr. Rolly Cruz.
“All workplaces are expected to follow these mandates to ensure outbreaks are prevented and to minimize exposure risks among their workers,” he added.