Senator Joel Villanueva has reiterated his call for the government to mandate the conduct of regular, randomized testing in the workplace for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as data from the Department of Health (DOH) showed that the majority of COVID-19 cases are from the working age groups.

Data from the health department showed that as of August 15, 2020, the 20-29 years age group had the greatest number of infections in the tally with 39,358 cases, followed by the 30-39 years age group (37,087), the 40-49 years age group (25,687), and the 50-59 age group (19,404).

“Dapat kasama po sa pagpayag ng pagbubukas ng negosyo ang pagsasagawa ng regular at random testing sa mga opisina at lugar-paggawa upang agad matunton ang mga may sakit at kaagad sila ma-isolate para hindi makahawa,” said the chair of the Senate labor committee. “Huwag na po natin antayin na lumala ang pagkalat ng sakit sa mga lugar-paggawa bago po tayo umaksyon.”

“Testing at contact tracing po ang pinaka-epektibong paraan laban sa COVID-19 sa panahon ngayon. Hinihiling po natin sa ating gobyerno na tulungan ang mga employer na isagawa ang regular, random testing sa kani-kanilang mga opisina at lugar-paggawa,” Villanueva said.

The veteran legislator expressed alarm over the cumulative COVID-19 positivity rate in the Philippines which has already breached 10%. According to the World Health Organization, a positivity rate of less than 5% is an indicator that the epidemic in the country is under control.

The veteran lawmaker appealed to the government to find a way to ensure that the workplaces are safe and help the employers.

“One option is for PhilHealth to pay the testing.”

“One option is for PhilHealth to pay the testing since workers pay premiums every month, as well as ensure compliance with DOLE-DTI health standards,” the senator explained.

He also implored the DOLE to resume its labor inspections to ensure that health standards are observed in workplaces.

“At the end of the day, it would be more costly if businesses are shuttered due to the virus.”

“At the end of the day, it would be more costly to the country, for the employers and to the workers and their families if businesses are shuttered due to the virus. The 16.5% drop in our GDP for the 2nd quarter showed us clearly its impact. It could be costly to do regular, random testing, and contact tracing, but with a vaccine still in the pipeline, the benefits of testing clearly outweigh the cost,” Villanueva concluded.

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