As more of its employees test positive for COVID-19, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has intensified its health and safety measures and protocols to prevent and mitigate the spread of the virus in its workplaces.

DSWD has increased the frequency of disinfection and sanitation of its offices and buildings and is enforcing strict adherence to social distancing and wearing of masks and face shields among its employees.

The Department is also implementing a work-from-home and skeletal workforce arrangements among its personnel to limit face to face interaction.

Shuttle services are being provided for employees who are part of the skeletal force, while food rationing is being implemented so personnel need not to go outside to buy food. DSWD has also provided accommodation to employees who could not go home.

In addition, DSWD Secretary Rolando Bautista has directed the heads of offices to recommend lockdowns, whenever needed, in their respective offices for disinfection and sanitation purposes and prevent further spread of the virus.

The Department also regularly issues health advisories in accordance with Department of Health (DOH) protocols as well as Frequently Asked Questions to guide its staff and increase their awareness to strengthen their compliance with workplace prevention protocols.

As to testing, some 97 DSWD personnel have been tested for COVID-19 with the help of the Marikina Molecular Laboratory, while its employees under the Crisis Intervention Unit were tested through the help of Philippine Coast Guard. Tests have also been conducted for the employees of DSWD Field Offices.

DSWD also came up with algorithms to guide future actions as regard to COVID-19 testing, including if a person underwent a rapid test or a swab test, contact tracing within the workplace, exposure to confirmed COVID-19 cases, and exposure to cases with positive rapid test results.

In addition, the Department also formed a COVID-19 Action Team to monitor and assess the situation of cases in the agency so appropriate actions can be undertaken to further protect its staff and assist employees who tested positive for the disease.

To date, DSWD has recorded 161 confirmed cases among its employees in the Central and Field Offices with 57 recoveries and one death. From March 17 to August 13, more than 1,500 personnel underwent self-quarantine after being exposed to individuals who tested positive for the disease.

DSWD is closely monitoring the condition of its personnel, especially those who contracted the virus, for the provision of appropriate support and interventions. Among the assistance extended by DSWD to affected staff include health monitoring and referral to DOH facilities and provision of personal protective equipment, vitamin supplements, hazard pay, and financial and medical assistance. The Department also provided mental and psychosocial services to the concerned personnel.

DSWD reiterated that despite some of its frontliners testing positive for COVID-19, it remains committed to provide unhampered public service amid the health crisis. ###