DTI says no need for workers without symptoms to be tested for coronavirus

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 07 2020 10:42 AM | Updated as of Aug 07 2020 04:35 PM

Market-goers buy local produce at the Kamuning Public Market in Quezon City on August 04, 2020 as Metro Manila reverts to modified enhanced community quarantine on August 4, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (UPDATE) - The Department of Trade and Industry said Friday there would be "no need" to test workers who show no symptoms of novel coronavirus infection as authorities seek to boost the Philippine economy after falling into recession due to the pandemic. 

Instead, employers need to monitor the health condition of their workers daily and report potential COVID-19 infections, said DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez. 

"There is no need to test... ‘pag asymptomatic--not even doing a rapid test nor a PCR test," he told ANC. "But for symptomatic already at may disclosure that there is some exposure already, you will be required to have PCR test." 

The PCR or polymerase chain reaction test screens nasal swab samples and is widely considered as the gold standard in coronavirus screening due to accurate results. 

On the other hand, several experts have warned against the use of rapid tests that detect the presence of antibodies in swab samples, saying these could yield false negative results up to half of the time. 

The DTI will also require companies to train workers on health protocols and set up committees that would check compliance, said Lopez. 

The agency is discouraging workers from socializing with each other in canteens, smoking areas and shuttle services, which are potential sites for virus transmission, said the trade secretary.

Workers are urged to eat packed lunches at their own work stations, which should be separated by acrylic barriers, he said. 

"What we’re trying to do is we are issuing a new set of protocols for business establishments to make it stricter and hopefully avoid iyong further spread after we reopen again the economy," said Lopez. 

Metro Manila and 4 surrounding provinces are under the second strictest lockdown level until Aug. 18 to give health workers a "breathing space" and contain COVID-19 cases that have topped 100,000. 

The Philippine economy shrunk in the second quarter plunging into recession, the first time in nearly 30 years, following one of the longest and strictest lockdowns in the world to curb the spread of COVID-19.

With a report from Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News