President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Monday encouraged employers to conduct free COVID-19 testing for their employees especially those who are vulnerable.
“It could be a private or public establishment or area. But the employers, ‘yung mga amo, are highly encouraged to send their employees for testing at no cost to the employees,” President Duterte said in a televised address.
The President, however, clarified that real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test is not required for asymptomatic employees who are going back to work.
“RT-PCR, or antibody-based tests is not recommended or required for asymptomatic employees returning to work. Hindi kailangan. However, mayroong caveat, may warning — however, the following priority workers in the sectors may undergo (testing),” the President said as he enumerated group of workers.
In the midst of the present pandemic, the government must put premium on the health of the nation’s workforce by conducting continuous testing, he stressed.
“Unahin muna natin ‘yung tao. Mawala tayo, nandiyan pa ang Pilipinas. Pero mawala ang tao, wala na ang Pilipinas. So unahin natin ‘yung tao,” said the President.
Based on the joint memorandum circular between the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), RT-PCR will be the recognized test for identified priority individuals.
The memorandum says that all workers in the hospitality and tourism sectors in El Nido, Boracay, Coron, Panglao, Siargao and other tourist zones identified by the Department of Tourism (DOT) may be tested once every four weeks.
All workers and employees of manufacturing companies and public service providers registered in economic zones located in special concern areas may be tested every three months.
Also, frontline and economic priority workers may be tested every three months. These workers are those who are working in high priority sectors, both in public and private, those with have high interaction with and exposure to the public, and those who live or work in special concern areas.
Similarly, a memorandum from the Department of Health (DOH) states that, “all testing facilities shall utilize the appropriate PhilHealth benefits and/or any benefit provided by Health Maintenance Organizations or Private Health Insurance for COVID-19 testing to reimburse the cost of testing”.
The country has 164,474 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Monday afternoon, the Department of Health (DOH) reported. The total number of recoveries is at 112,759, while there were 2,681 deaths, it said. PND