Canteens, smoking areas in workplaces 'very vulnerable' to COVID-19 contamination: official

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 06 2020 10:51 AM

MANILA - Spots of convergence in workplaces such as canteens and smoking areas were found to be sources of "great contamination" with COVID-19, the chief implementer of the country's pandemic response strategy said Thursday.

Authorities found "great violation" of minimum health standards such as physical distancing in workplaces- particularly in economic hubs Metro Manila and nearby provinces Bulacan, Laguna, Cavite, and Rizal- Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said.

"We saw that the most critical areas right now are the workplace, 'yung tinatawag natin na economic hubs," Galvez Jr. said during the launch of the One Hospital Command in Makati City.

"We have this kind of spikes and we saw na very vulnerable talaga 'yung mass transport and common areas na parang kinakainan ng ating workers," he added.

Galvez said they also found that workers lacked orientation in terms of minimum health standards.

In June, the government eased community quarantine protocols in most parts of the country to resuscitate the economy bruised by the pandemic.

COVID-19 infections, however, surged with the easing of lockdowns, with the Philippines tallying over 115,000 cases as of the latest count.

The spike in infections prompted health workers to plead for a "time out," a call that was heeded by President Rodrigo Duterte by reverting the capital region and the nearby four provinces to a stricter modified enhanced community quarantine for half a month. 

COVID-19 testing czar Vince Dizon said the government would use the two-week strict lockdown to recalibrate its pandemic response strategy.

"Pinapaigting natin ang testing at tracing sa ating mga communities," he said.

(We are strengthening testing and tracing in communities.)

As of Wednesday, the Philippines has 47,587 active COVID-19 cases.