403 call center agents in Davao City test positive for COVID-19

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 7 June) – Health authorities have documented 403 workers of a business process outsourcing (BPO) company here that turned out positive of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) based on test results of some 1,000 workers during a surveillance swabbing.

Surveillance swab testing in Davao City. MindaNews file photo by MANMAN DEJETO

During a virtual briefing hosted by the Department of Health (DOH)-Davao on Monday, Dr. Marjorie Culas, assistant head of City Health Office (CHO), said the positivity rate was considered “very, very high,” prompting the local government to immediately put the BPO company under lockdown.

“We are forced to lockdown the area. There is really a surge within the workplace,” she said.

The health official did not reveal the BPO company nor discussed details of the lockdown.

Culas said the firm was among the 11 call centers in the city, along with 26 other establishments, with confirmed COVID-19 cases. These include government offices, stores, banks, food and non-food establishments, and even a church, that have been placed under lockdown due to high transmission.

The city has 16 BPO companies, according to data released by Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)-Davao.

During her program over Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR 87.5), Mayor Sara Duterte said the local government would continue with its “Positive Action Plan,” which consists of the “test, trace, and isolate” to deal with the high COVID-19 cases inside establishments.

“That’s still our response to the positive cases. We test them. Once we get the confirmed positive test results, we will start the tracing and isolation or quarantine,” she said.

The mayor urged offices and establishments to not conceal the situation in their workplaces if they know their workers have tested positive or are manifesting the symptoms of COVID-19.

“Once you have positive cases there in your offices, let’s not conceal it because it will not contain the transmission. It will only spread. In the end, your office or establishment will be put in lockdown because of the widespread transmission of COVID-19,” she said.

Duterte said there are 440 houses, seven buildings, eight compounds, and a school that have been put in lockdown as of June 7, and have been closely monitored by around 1,440 personnel from the security cluster of the city.

She said the city has a total bed capacity of 2,027 as of June 6, of which 1,466 beds have been set aside for the isolation of active cases and the remaining 561 beds for the quarantine of close contacts.

Culas said health care utilization rate in the city is already at high risk, reporting 85% of the total COVID-19 beds occupied at present.

As of June 6, the DOH-Davao reported 99 new cases in Davao City, bringing the total to 18,288, with 2,460 active, 15,049 recovered, and 779 deaths. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)