Following a new COVID-19 outbreak at a BPO firm in Bacolod City, the city’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is again reminding the public not to let their guards down, as the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over.
“The outbreak in a BPO company is a stark reminder that this nightmare with COVID-19 is not yet over. We would like to remind everyone to continue to strictly observe proper health protocols to keep the workplace coronavirus-free,” EOC executive director and City Administrator Em Ang said.
The City Legal Office had issued a notice of suspension to the call center concerned on February 1, suspending its operations for two days from February 2 to 3 for sanitation and disinfection of its work premises, after 41 of its employees tested positive for the virus.
“We have issued the company with a very strong warning. If they cannot comply with the minimum health protocols, we will impose a much harsher remedy,” Mayor Evelio Leonardia said.
He added, “I’ve instructed the EOC to also issue reminders and warnings to all call centers to strictly follow all health protocols because they have similar physical set-ups and working environments. What happened in this company can happen to any call center if they are not careful.”
Meanwhile, City Legal Officer, Atty. Joselito Bayatan, said the company may resume operations today but subject to evaluation by the medical doctors of the City Health Office (CHO).
Based on EOC line list last January 23, the first COVID-19 case in the company was a 21 year-old male employee residing in Barangay Bata. Two more cases quickly followed in less than 24 hours and then four more cases in the next two days.
Ang said their Monitoring and Enforcement Team also visited the site on January 23 to check on compliance with health and safety protocols but were required to first submit a letter from the EOC and to undergo rapid testing before they would be allowed to go inside the premises.
It was followed by yet another visit on January 26 wherein the EOC called for an online meeting with Transcom management. They were apprised of the rapid growth of cases in their facility.
The EOC’s Testing Team continued to swab close contacts and results came back with seven additional positive cases.
After aggressive contact tracing and surveillance testing, 16 more positive cases from the BPO firm were found on January 30 and additional 11 positive cases on January 31, bringing the total cases to 41.
On the same day when the results came out, Leonardia called an emergency meeting with the EOC to address the spike of cases.
Bayatan said that the positive patients and their close contacts have already been isolated.
“All we ask now is for the other establishments to not put their guards down although we are in MGCQ,” he added./WDJ