A total of 1,264 employees of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) have undergone rapid and swab tests, 41 of whom were confirmed to be positive for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Majority are asymptomatic, the BOC said in a statement.
There had been one casualty since the start of the pandemic; the person was known to have an existing lung condition even before the outbreak.
Employees positive for COVID-19 and those whom they had close contact with are now under self-quarantine for 14 days, BOC said in a statement. BOC’s Intelligence Group is also conducting contact tracing of those who had direct contact with the positive cases.
“All confirmed asymptomatic COVID-19 cases, as well as suspected ones, are being handled consistently under existing DOH [Department of Health] protocols,” BOC assistant commissioner and spokesperson Atty. Vincent Philip Maronilla said.
The recent rapid and swab tests were conducted by BOC’s Medical and Dental Division with the support of DOH and Philippine Red Cross (PRC).
Maronilla earlier said PRC has allocated BOC with slots for free regular swab testing of its employees. DOH also provides rapid testing for BOC employees and those that exhibit symptoms are prioritized for testing.
Aside from testing for cases, Maronilla said BOC also exercises all precautionary measures such as wearing of face masks and gloves, as well as the observance of physical distancing rules.
“We regularly disinfect our offices and we implement flexible working arrangements for our frontliners such as skeletal workforce schedules and work from home options,” he added.
As a safety measure, all BOC transactions have been online since the start of the pandemic to avoid physical contact with stakeholders. Manual transactions within BOC premises were discouraged to ensure the safety of both stakeholders and Customs employees.
“We are aware of how critical our role is in this current pandemic and so, while we praise and thank our frontliners for their dedicated and untiring service despite the daily risks, we also would like to assure the public that the Bureau of Customs’ highest priority is the health and safety of our own employees and that of our stakeholders. Protocols are in place and are strictly followed,” Maronilla said.