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DOH issues back to work guidelines as NCR eases quarantine measures

By: - Reporter / @santostinaINQ
/ 07:52 PM May 17, 2020

A security guard (L) takes the temperature of a shopper at the entrance of a shopping mall as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus, in Manila on May 16, 2020. – The Philippine capital’s massive shopping malls began to partially re-open for business on May 16 with many restrictions and few customers as the nation cautiously eases a two-month virus quarantine. (Photo by Ted ALJIBE / AFP)

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) has issued the guidelines for those who will be returning to work as the National Capital Region (NCR) gradually eases quarantine restrictions.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire on Sunday said it is not required for all employees to undergo a coronavirus test prior to returning to work.

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She said the DOH does not recommend the coronavirus test for individuals who did not have any exposure to any suspected or confirmed coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patient.

“Our protocol is to guide employers. We have emphasized that symptomatic screening is ideal, and test only when symptomatic,” Vergeire said in a Viber message to reporters.

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“IATF resolution stated that in no case shall testing be a condition for a return to work, so we expect that specific agencies shall implement and enforce the IATF resolutions,” she added.

Under the guidelines, daily temperature and symptom monitoring of all staff who report for work shall be conducted.

Employers must enforce infection control procedures such as physical distancing, the wearing of masks, meticulous hand hygiene, and cough etiquette.

Appropriate personal protective equipment shall also be worn based on the setting of work, and this includes the wearing of face shields and masks for those who render service via face-to-face encounters, among others.

Returning employees and workers physically returning to their place of employment shall be screened for COVID-19 symptoms.

Those who are symptomatic with relevant history of travel/exposure on the date of work resumption shall not be allowed to physically return to work and must consult with their primary care provider.

Those who were symptomatic with relevant history of travel/exposure within the last 14 days prior to the date of work resumption shall present a Certificate of Quarantine Completion duly issued by the step-down care facility or local health office.

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If asymptomatic within the last 14 days prior to the date of work resumption, employees and workers can be cleared to physically return to work.

The DOH states that while testing is an important component of response against COVID-19, limitations on their reliability and validity shall be recognized.

“Testing using RT-PCR among representatives can be conducted to look for any evidence of asymptomatic transmitters,” DOH Department Memorandum 2020-0220 reads.

“If tested positive, the returning employee is a COVID-19 case and will be isolated and referred accordingly for appropriate management. If negative, the returning employee can continue working with usual precaution,” it added.

“If initially tested negative but developed symptoms, the employee must be tested accordingly,” it said.

Alternatively, the guidelines provide that testing using FDA-approved rapid antibody-based tests among representative samples for baseline can also be conducted up to every 14 days.

The DOH guideline also provides that the cost of the test not covered by the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) shall be shouldered by the employer.

/MUF

For more news about the novel coronavirus click here.
What you need to know about Coronavirus.
For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

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TAGS: back to work, COVID-19, DoH, guidelines, NCR
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