DOLE: What companies, staff should do amid virus alert
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III has called on employers to establish precautionary measures at the workplace to prevent the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus (nCoV), following the Department of Health (DOH) confirmation on Thursday of the first nCoV case in the country.
Among other initiatives, Bello said companies should provide employees information about the coronavirus, disinfect work areas, reduce the exposure of workers to animals, environment and objects that may be carrying the virus, and ensure that meals in office canteens are properly prepared, handled and cooked.
In an advisory, Bello said workers should also be reminded of healthy practices when coughing, sneezing or spitting, personal hygiene, and increasing body resistance through adequate rest, plenty of fluids, and nutritious food.
Employers should also monitor the health of workers particularly those with fever and other flu symptoms, and those who have traveled to or worked in countries affected by the coronavirus, Bello added.
Workers with suspected nCoV should be isolated, referred to the company healthcare provider or the nearest hospital, and reported to the DOH. Their work area should also be decontaminated.
Workers who have fever but are not suspected to have nCoV should be advised to stay home and seek medical care, the Labor official said.
Companies should also grant sick workers a leave of absence and assist them in getting hospitalization, social security or employees’ compensation benefits, Bello said.
The business community meanwhile has come up with its own protocol to keep workers and the workplace safe from the virus.
Globe Telecom, for one, distributed face masks to its workers, sparing them the expense and trouble of finding this basic protection that has been in short supply lately.
The telecom’s head office in Bonifacio Global City even has a temperature checker, similar to those in airports, that would establish at the onset a worker’s feverish temperature.
Globe employees, especially those who had traveled to countries affected by the virus, can also opt to work from home, and are required to be quarantined for two weeks, according to Yolanda Crisanto, Globe’s senior vice president of Corporate Communications.
“At Globe, we have instituted precautions for our employees. There have been a series of health advisories for prevention and management,” she said.
European and American business groups have taken similar precautions in the face of this global health concern.
Nabil Francis, president of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, said the European business community “is beefing up preventive measures by limiting travel activities, observing personal hygiene practices and providing alternative work arrangements.”
The American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines likewise cited its work from home option for workers who had just returned from China, aside from providing face masks and temperature sensors, said its executive director Ebb Hinchcliffe.
“But overall, it’s business as usual,” Hinchcliffe said.
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