BI, DOLE main offices closed for COVID disinfection

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    BY ASHZEL HACHERO and GERARD NAVAL

    THE main office of the Bureau of Immigration in Intramuros, Manila was closed yesterday for disinfection after one of its employee tested positive for COVID-19.

    Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said the main office “will be back in business as soon as we have finished disinfecting our building.”

    The Department of Labor and Employment also suspended its operations in its central office also in Intramuros, Manila to undergo “regular disinfection.” DOLE Hotline 1349 will also be temporarily unavailable during the period.

    Operations will resume on Wednesday.

    A DOLE insider said the suspension came after one its personnel tested positive for COVID-19 late last week.

    Morente said all BI satellite and extension offices in Metro Manila such at an SM Aura in Taguig City will remain open for business.

    He advised those who have secured slots via the BI’s newly-launched online appointment system to defer their transaction as they will be notified later of the new schedule of their appointments.

    BI acting spokesman Melvin Mabulac said the employee who tested positive for COVID-19 were among hundreds of immigration employees who underwent rapid anti-body testing on June 2.

    “He initially tested positive in the rapid test conducted last June 2 so he was subjected to a confirmatory swab test. The test result showing he has the virus came out last Saturday,” he said.

    Mabulac said the employee was put in isolation while his office mates were directed to undergo mandatory confirmatory tests.

    Mabulac said the rapid anti-body testing will continue until June 11 or until all immigration officers and employees are tested.

    MISTING

    The Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene (Quiapo Church) said it has stopped the use of disinfectant solution on churchgoers via misting because of potential harmful effects.

    It will instead begin using ultraviolet (UV) light as a means of protecting churchgoers from getting infected with the COVID-19, said Fr. Danichi Hui, Quiapo Church parochial vicar.

    Last April, the Department of Health said it does not recommend the use of disinfection tents or misting on persons as pathogens may be dispersed further during spraying.

    Over the weekend, environmental health group EcoWaste Coalition called on the administration of Quiapo Church not to spray or mist churchgoers. This, it said, is due to the possibility of spraying individuals with chlorine and other toxic chemicals, resulting in eye and skin irritation, bronchospasm due to inhalation, and gastrointestinal effects such as nausea and vomiting.

    Hui said the church will continue enforcing other safety protocols meant to protect the churchgoers.

    “We still continue with the hand disinfection, foot bath, and body temperature,” he said.

    “Also, we will still do our regular disinfection of the church once the faithful leave,” he added.

    The Archdiocese of Manila has issued a set of health and safety guidelines for churches in preparation for the resumption of religious gatherings. Last week, government allowed religious gatherings in general community quarantine areas like Metro Manila but limited to 10 persons.