Stricter protocols, strengthened price monitoring set

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    By Irma Isip and Jed Macapagal

    The government will impose stricter protocols for establishments to curb the spread of the new coronavirus disease 2019.

    Secretary Ramon Lopez of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF)  for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases will issue the new guidelines which will be observed beyond the modified enhanced community quarantine following the discovery that cases had surged in factories and companies.

    Lopez said following the issuance of the Department of Transportation of a circular requiring the use of face shields in public transportation, establishments will also now be asked to require their employees to wear this added protection in confined rooms where multiples work side by side.

    Under the planned guidelines, Lopez said establishments will be required  to set up of isolation facilities or if not possible to have a coordination plan to send to government quarantine facilities  workers who test positive.

    Lopez said companies should establish clear procedures  if and when a worker tests positive of the virus, including the reportorial process to local officials.

    He said tests should be done using the RT-PCR and not the rapid test to employees showing symptoms and confirmed to have been exposed to COVID patients.

    Another requirement is the appointment of a health protocol official within the company who will monitor the implementation of the IATF-imposed standards such as health checks, disinfection, wearing of masks, washing of hands, foot baths, physical distancing among others. Lopez said more training will also be required to ensure the health monitor is up-to-date.

    Meanwhile, DTI led government agencies in signing a joint memorandum circular (JMC) that will strengthen  the role of local price coordinating councils (LPCCs) in managing  prices of basic necessities and prime commodities to protect consumers.

    Officials of the DTI signed the JMC with the Departments of Agriculture,  of Interior and Local Government (DILG), of Environment and Natural Resources and the  of Health.

    Lopez said the JMC will strengthen the monitoring of goods as stated under the Price Act down to the level of f local government units (LGUs).

    The monitoring will also now include medicine and forestry items.

    “Local price coordinating councils are important as our enforcement arm… In fact with the help of the DILG, National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine National Police, we’ve already arrested over 500 profiteers and hoarders from markets, warehouses and retail stores,” Lopez said.