Davao’s BPO firms urged to put up contact-tracing teams

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 6 Aug) – The business process outsourcing (BPO) companies in Davao City have been encouraged to put up their own contact-tracing teams and initiate voluntary “granular” lockdowns to prevent spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in their workplace.

Davao City. MindaNews file photo by CAROLYN O. ARGUILLAS

Xavier Eric B. Manalastas, president of the BPO Association of Davao, told Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR 87.5) on Friday that enforcing these protocols could lessen the impact of harsh measures that the local government implements on businesses should the infection spread in their workplaces.

He said these guidelines were drafted by the BPO sector, which bore the brunt of the pandemic last year.

The city’s BPO sector comprises 45 to 50 firms, with a total number of workers estimated at 45,000 to 50,000, according to Manalastas.

He added that having their own contact-tracing teams would help immediately determine the close contacts of an index case to prevent further transmission of the infection in the company.

“We created guidelines to the BPO companies that we should not wait for contact tracers [from the government] to communicate with us. One of the best practices that we want BPO companies to implement is to have their own contact-tracing teams already. So, their own contact-tracing teams will have a weekly reporting mechanism,” Manalastas said.

He added that the companies’ own contact tracers will be the ones to communicate to the local government the workers who turn out positive of COVID-19 and their close contacts.

To avoid further spread of the infection in the workplace, he said companies are encouraged to voluntarily enforce granular lockdowns by identifying the specific area where the infection occurs instead of putting the entire building on lockdown.

“We should not wait for the government to come and advise us to go on lockdown. We should enforce a granular voluntary lockdown already. We probably don’t have to shut down the entire building because we can identify which floor is exposed. For example, if you have identified the third floor, then you have to lockdown the entire third floor right away,” Manalastas said.

He said that part of the building subject to granular lockdown must be disinfected.

He added that those workers identified as close contacts would be advised to immediately shift to online work from home while undergoing home quarantine.

Manalastas also encouraged BPO workers to get vaccinated, especially the ones who work on-site, but added that employees should not be forced if they are unwilling to receive the vaccines.

He said the sector targets to vaccinate 25,000 workers this year, of whom 7,000 have been inoculated with anti-COVID-19 vaccines under their program called “Vacc2normal.”

He said the sector has scheduled vaccination for the second dose next week. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)