DOH releases provisional guidelines on returning workers

CALOOCAN CITY, May 19 (PIA) -- The Department of Health (DOH) has released provisional guidelines on returning workers as restrictions on community quarantine in some areas in the country eases. 

“Our protocol is to guide employers, we have emphasized the symptomatic screening is ideal, and test only when asymptomatic,” DOH Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire said on Sunday, May 17.

The DOH said all employees who are returning to work should be screened for COVID-19 symptoms including their history of travel or possible exposure to COVID-19 for past 14 days. 

As stated in DOH Memorandum 2020-0220, returning employees who are symptomatic with relevant history of travel/exposure on the date of work resumption will not be allowed to return to work physically. 

Employees who are symptomatic must present certificate of quarantine completion duly issued by the step-down care facility or local health office upon returning to work.

Meanwhile, returning employees who are asymptomatic within the last 14 days prior to the date of work resumption can be cleared to physically return to work.  

The DOH said it is not mandatory to conduct COVID-19 testing for those who will return to work.

“The Inter-agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) resolution said in no case shall testing be a condition to return to work, so we expect that specific agencies shall implement and enforce the IATF resolution,” Vergeire said. 

Employers who opt to conduct testing may conduct a “representative sample” of those who have returned to work physically and have high risk of contracting COVID-19 due to nature of work.

The DOH said if tested positive, the returning employee will be isolated and referred accordingly for appropriate management. 

The returning employee can continue working with usual precaution, if tested negative.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved rapid antibody-based test kit can be used by employers to its personnel as alternative to RT-PCR testing. The test can be conducted up to every 14 days.

The DOH reminded the public that the cost of the test is not covered by Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) and it shall be shouldered by the employer.

“Both workers and employers to comply with the guidelines to prevent transmission of COVID in workplaces,” Vergeire said. (PIA-NCR)

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