BY ADRIAN P. NEMES III
Business Process Outsourcing firm Transcom Bacolod vowed to implement stringent health measures as it resumes operations today after it was closed for two days due to the coronavirus outbreak in its facility.
But City Legal Officer Joselito Bayatan said the resumption is still subject to evaluation by doctors of the City Health Office.
The firm temporarily ceased operations starting Monday to give way for disinfection after 41 of its employees tested positive for Covid last week.
A statement posted on the company’s Facebook page showed that it developed its own QR Code-enabled process aside from using the city’s baCTRac system.
Earlier, Emergency Operations Center executive director Em Ang expressed dismay upon learning that Transcom was not using the baCTrac application and that made it difficult for the monitoring team to conduct contact-tracing.
This was the reason why Transcom was issued a notice of violation and was made to pay a fine of P1,000, Ang said.
On top of developing a QR code of its own, other measures that Transcom said it will implement include the mandatory antigen testing every seven days for all onsite personnel instead of the usual 14-day interval, the company said.
Common areas and workstations in the production floors were also reconfigured to comply with the one-meter safe distance requirement of the EOC, it added.
Transcom will continue to provide transportation assistance to employees through a point-to-point shuttle service system that follows social distancing guidelines, it added.
Since the start of the second quarter when the pandemic was at its peak, Transcom had transitioned 75 percent of its operations to work-from-home scheme, it said.
The company said it spent more than 7 million US dollars in 2020 for business continuity initiatives that focused on ensuring the safety of its employees.
It emphasized that the safety of employees, their families, and the larger community has always been a key priority of Transcom’s fight against Covid-19 and it is committed to continue in taking appropriate actions in unison with the local government.
Transcom Bacolod participated in a Covid-19 surveillance test conducted by the city government last week after 14 of its employees tested positive, using the company’s mandatory antigen testing and subsequent reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test from Jan. 23-28.
The surveillance RT-PCR tests conducted on 598 employees on Jan. 29 and 30 generated 27 more positives, raising the total number of cases to 41.
Transcom said the number represents about 6.45 percent of all personnel tested from Jan. 23-30.
Aside from Transcom, the EOC warned five other BPOs to either use the baCTrac system or be penalized.
Mayor Evelio Leonardia said the city government issued the firms a strong warning that harsher penalties await them should they fail to comply.
Leonardia instructed the EOC to also issue reminders and warnings to all call centers to strictly follow all health protocols because they have similar physical set-ups and working environments.
He emphasized that what happened with Transcom can happen to any call center if they are not careful.
Bayatan said that the positive patients and their close contacts have already been isolated.
“All we ask now is for the other establishments not to put their guard down although we are in MGCQ,” he added.
Complaints regarding the BaCTrac were also recently tackled in a meeting where the EOC found out that all BPOs in Bacolod are registered with the system but some are not using it, Dr. Chris Sorongon, EOC deputy medical for data assessment and analysis, said.
“I am shocked. They are a business involved in technology; such a thing – a QR code – must have been understood by them,” Councilor Renecito Novero said.
Leonardia said, “It’s both ironic and tragic. Using the QR code should have been second nature to them.”
Sorongon reiterated that using the BaCTrac QR code is mandatory for business establishments in Bacolod.
Under Section 13 of the BaCTrac ordinance, any government office or private establishment that fails to scan all BaCTrac cards of clients and visitors and/or maintain a manual logbook for those who have not yet registered with the BaCTrac shall be penalized.
For the first offense, erring establishments will pay P1,000 in fine, and P2,000 and P5,000 for the second and third offense, respectively.
The manual logbook is only for clients or persons who are not yet registered in the BaCTrac, Ang said. She said the EOC will give due notice to establishments that do not have any log history, according to the data center report.*