DOLE: 4,700 firms hit by COVID-19

Published by rudy Date posted on September 3, 2021

by Sheila Crisostomo – The Philippine Star, 3 Sep 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Out of the more than 48,000 companies inspected, around 4,700 firms reported they have employees who got infected with COVID-19 as of July, according to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

“We see that most of the cases are from the service sector, those in trade. Those doing related services are placed in this category, followed by the manufacturing, wholesale and retail sectors, including the groceries and supermarkets,” DOLE Assistant Secretary Maria Teresita Cucueco said yesterday.

“Next are those involved in finance and insurance activities and finally, those in construction. These are the top five sectors that are reporting cases to us,” she added.

To get an accurate picture of the pandemic at the workplace, DOLE is looking at requiring all companies to report should they have COVID-19 cases. The labor department added that it aims to inspect some 75,000 establishments for the whole year.

“When we do inspections, we are able to help companies that are still lacking in information (about protocols). Our approach is developmental,” she concluded.

Herd immunity

The Philippines might be able to achieve herd immunity against COVID-19 early next year, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said yesterday during the House hearing on DOH’s proposed P242-billion budget for 2022.

“Supply permitting that there will be 500,000 to 600,000 jabs per day, the conservative estimate is we might be able to achieve herd immunity during the first quarter of 2022,” Duque said.

He noted that 140 million COVID-19 vaccine doses are expected to arrive until yearend and since March, the country has already received about 44 million doses.

“We are hoping that once we reach herd immunity and vaccinate at least 77 million of our people, maybe the situation would improve because a lot of people have protection,” Duque stressed.

Duque also lamented the 73-percent cut to the DOH’s pandemic response budget, from P73.99 billion to just P19.68 billion.

He said this would affect the special risk allowance, hazard pay, meals, accommodation and transportation allowances, and life insurance of healthcare workers.

He added they have initially proposed P104 billion for purchase of booster doses next year but the DBM only granted P45 billion, and only under unprogrammed funds, meaning it would only be funded if revenue collections exceed targets or when additional grants or foreign funds are generated.

DOH Undersecretary Mario Villaverde said the World Bank granted the Philippines a P25-billion loan for the vaccine program while another P35 billion in loan grants came from the Asian Development Bank and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. The Bayanihan 2 law provided a P10-billion appropriation for the procurement of vaccines. – Edu Punay

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