BY ADRIAN P. NEMES III
Bacolod City Legal Officer Joselito Bayatan said last night that the operations of Transcom Bacolod will be suspended until Feb. 3 so that its premises will be sanitized and disinfected.
This developed even as a notice of violation was also issued to the business process outsourcing firm by the Emergency Operations Center yesterday after it was discovered that it failed to use the city’s BaCTrac system even if it has been enrolled in it, EOC executive director, Em Ang, said.
Mayor Evelio Leonardia held a 4-hour emergency Zoom meeting with the EOC on Sunday after 41 of 594 employees of the firm tested positive for coronavirus disease 2019 in a surveillance testing, Ang said.
EOC records show that the first case that appeared in their line list on Jan. 23 was that of a 21-year-old male employee of Transcom from Barangay Bata.
Two more cases followed in less than 24 hours and then four more cases in the next two days, the EOC added.
“Our Monitoring and Enforcement Team visited the site on Jan. 23 to check on the compliance with health and safety protocols,” Ang said.
But the firm required the team to submit a letter from the EOC and to undergo rapid testing before they are allowed inside the premises, she said.
Ang added that it was followed by yet another visit on Jan. 26, and that same day, the EOC immediately called for an online meeting with the Transcom management.
She said the management was apprised of the rapid increase of cases in their facility while safety guidelines were reviewed and the management was again reminded of minimum health protocols.
Ang added that the EOC testing team continued to swab the close contacts of those who had tested positive and the results came back with seven additional positive cases.
She said another video conference with Transcom was made on Jan. 29, and attended by executives from their Iloilo, Manila, and UK offices.
After aggressive contact tracing and surveillance testing, 16 additional cases from the same workplace were found on Saturday, and 11 more on Sunday.
The EOC recommended improvements in physical working conditions, like observance of physical distancing, work-from-home arrangement, securing temporary lodging and transportation for workers, and strict compliance with the use of the BaCTrac system.
The Covid-stricken employees are now in isolation facilities. None of their family members tested positive, based on the testing conducted by the EOC.
“The EOC continues to closely monitor the welfare of the IT-BPM workforce throughout this public health crisis and we are working directly with the appropriate national government agencies in ensuring the safety of our IT-BPM labor force,” Ang said.
“The outbreak in Transcom is a stark reminder that this nightmare with Covid is not yet over. We would like to remind everyone to continue to strictly observe proper health protocols to keep the workplace coronavirus-free,” she added.
She urged offices to strictly maintain and enforce prevention protocols, comply with BaCTrac, thermal scanning, provide alcohol, sanitizer, and face masks to employees, and install footbath and hand washing stations for clients at strategic locations in the workplace. Employees experiencing flu-like symptoms must be sent home immediately and should consult a doctor, or call the EOC telemed hotline.*