41 BPO workers in Bacolod contract virus

By Dolly Yasa


BACOLOD City – City Administrator Em Ang, executive director of the Bacolod City Emergency Operations, said the coronavirus disease 2019 or Covid-19 nightmare is not over yet after 41 employees of BPO firm Transcom Bacolod contracted the virus.

In a statement on Monday, Ang said the EOC “was greeted with sudden increase in COVID-19 cases on the first day of February.”

“A total of 41 employees have tested positive after the surveillance testing of 594 of their personnel Friday and Saturday. The outbreak in a BPO company is a stark reminder that this nightmare with COVID is not yet over, ” Ang said.

Ang reminded everyone to strictly observe proper health protocols to keep their workplaces coronavirus-free.

This includes keeping at least 1-meter social physical distance, regular washing of hands, and use of face masks on and off the office premises, she said.

Offices are also urged to strictly maintain and enforce the following prevention protocols:

-compliance with BaCTrac (tracing system);

-thermal scanning;

-provision of alcohol, sanitizer, and face mask for employees; and

-footbath and hand washing stations for all incoming clients at various strategic locations in the workplace.

Employees experiencing flu-like symptoms must be immediately sent home and consult a doctor or call the EOC telemed hotline.

Meanwhile Mayor Evelio Leonardia, led a 4-hour long emergency Zoom meeting of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Task Force Sunday after the EOC reported a clustering of new COVID-19 cases among employees of Transcom.

The first case that appeared in the EOC list last January 23 was that of a 21-year-old male employee residing in Barangay Bata.

Two more cases quickly followed in less than 24 hours and then 4 more cases in the next 2 days, Ang said.

She said that the Monitoring and Enforcement Team visited the site on January 23 to check its compliance with health and safety protocols.

But the team was required to 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 Tuesday, January 26 while on the same day we immediately called for an online meeting with Transcom management. They were apprised of the rapid growth of cases in their facility,” Ang said.

Workplace safety was reviewed, and the management was again reminded of minimum health protocols and other safety guidelines.

Meanwhile, the testing team continued to swab close contacts and results came back with 7 additional positive cases.

Another video conference with Transcom was made on January 29 which was attended by executives from their Iloilo, Manila and UK offices.

After aggressive contact tracing and surveillance testing, 16 more cases from the same workplace were found on Saturday, January 30 and additional 11 positive cases today, January 31 bringing the total to 41 new cases.

Ang said that after the EOC emergency meeting was adjourned, BCPO Head Col. Manuel Placido personally visited the site.

The BPO facility was closed for 24 hours for disinfection and decontamination.

The EOC also recommended improvements to the physical working conditions such as the use of physical distancing, work-from-home arrangement, and to secure temporary lodging and transportation for workers and strict compliance with the use of the BaCTrac system.

“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.