San Miguel Corp. has begun testing employees for COVID-19 as part of an extensive plan to reopen its workplaces safely and continue providing essential services to the public.
Swabbing is ongoing in key facilities of the company while work to build a dedicated testing lab is underway. Construction is already 60-percent complete.
San Miguel said in a statement Wednesday it would also strictly implement workplace safety measures–from physical distancing, wearing of protective equipment, frequent hand washing to conducting temperature checks, among others–to prevent the spread of the virus and ensure the safety of employees.
“We are prioritizing, first, our security and other maintenance staff, as they are the ones who take care of our workplace. After them, we test our colleagues whose duties require them to report to the office,” San Miguel president and chief operating officer Ramon Ang said. “Initially we are looking at only 20% of our head office population to report for work. Majority will still continue to work-from home.”
Ang said testing at its other facilities, specially its food manufacturing plants in Cavite, was also set to start. Throughout the enhanced community quarantine period, teams of stay-in workers have been working around the clock at San Miguel’s food facilities to continue essential food production.
“We will also test close to 8,000 manufacturing and operations and management front line staff. We are also lining up testing at our Visayas facilities simultaneously,” Ang added.
Visayas and Davao testing will be on stream toward the end of May or early June.
Ang said once San Miguel’s dedicated PCR testing laboratory is up and running, the company will be able to test even more employees and help ensure their safe return to work. PCR testing is the gold standard for diagnosing COVID-19 because it is highly reliable and accurate.
“We are doing this in phases. The success with which we can quickly test a large percentage of our employee population over the next few weeks will be a key consideration in the timelines of our overall return-to-work plan. Currently, we are working with partner laboratories to process the tests, but once our lab is up, we expect to be able to process more tests quickly so we don’t burden the system and we can take care of our employees,” he said.
“Being able to test to identify who has the virus quickly, isolate them from the rest of the employee population and to monitor the workforce for indicative symptoms will allow us to emerge from this crisis strong.”
Ang reiterated San Miguel’s commitment to continue helping government, medical front liners, local government units and less-fortunate communities throughout the crisis.
It earlier vowed to support all 17 Metro Manila local government units in their efforts to expand Covid-19 testing in their respective areas. San Miguel is donating swab booths as well as PCR testing kits equivalent to 34,000 tests.
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