Philex to test 1,000 mine workers

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TUBA, Benguet – Philex Mining Corporation is targeting to initially test at least 1,000 employees for the dreaded Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) following the recent surge in cases from among the workers over the past several days.

Philex legal and administrative division head Atty. Eduardo M. Aratas said that the company’s expanded testing started last week which is part of the management’s voluntary initiative to protect its employees from contracting the deadly virus.

Initially, some 200 mine workers already underwent the required swab test where some 5 percent of them turned out to be positive and were immediately provided with the appropriate medical intervention for the health and safety of their dependents.

Aratas explained that the company’s expanded testing is different from the testing being conducted by the different municipal and provincial health offices as a result of contact tracing to help in the determination of the areas with local or community transmission of the virus so that appropriate measures could be imposed to prevent the further spread of the virus in the mine site.

Further, the Philex official pointed out that the company embarked on the expanded testing to ensure the health and safety of its workers who had been working since the start of the pandemic last March.

According to him, prior to the request of the employees union and other organizations, the company already started testing its workers, particularly the identified vulnerable ones, as part of the management’s voluntary initiative in a bid to protect their health and safety as well as that of the whole mining community.

As of October 23, 2020, the company was able to record some 25 COVID-19 positive cases from the different villages compared to the only 5 confirmed cases last October 14, 2020.

Aratas emphasized that the company will be shouldering the conduct of the tests to the initial projected number of mine workers aside from the fact that management is also looking into the possibility of conducting expanded testing to the dependents of its employees.

He assured that all the confirmed cases have already been contact traced and are now admitted at the Benguet General Hospital (BeGH) and the temporary treatment and isolation facility based in Wangal, La Trinidad town for further monitoring of their status and treatment of the virus.

He claimed that management is trying to embrace doable strategies that will help in preventing the spread of the deadly virus in the villages that are within the company’s jurisdiction to prevent the occurrence of an outbreak that will compromise the present health care system in the mine site.

Aratas assured that the company is doing its best to look after the welfare of its workers and the people living within the mining community to prevent them from being exposed to individuals that have tested positive for the virus because management has placed in its priority thrusts the protection of the health and the safety of the people in their communities, especially at the height of the prevailing pandemic and crisis situation.

The government allowed the continuous operation of large-scale mining companies during the Luzonwide lockdown after concerned government agencies classified mining as a vital economic driver being an export-oriented industry. By HENT