Manila, July 4, 2003 (STAR) Even if the Philippines is not among the countries afflicted by the deadly Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), food manufacturing companies like CDO-Foodsphere Inc. have adopted pro-active SARS-preventive measures to protect its employees.

One such measure is requiring all employees to undergo aural temperature screening, which became effective May 19, as part of the early detection procedures for signs and symptoms of SARS.

Those with normal temperature are provided with colored sticker placed on their IDs before being cleared to enter the office and manufacturing plant premises. The clearance is good for one week with each week having a particular color code.

Alex Coralde, CDO-Foodsphere human resource department head, said the company cannot afford to risk being contaminated in whatever manner by the SARS virus that has infected more than 8,000 people around the world, aside from resulting in billions of dollars in tourism revenue losses for a number of countries.

The key strategies, formulated by company officials with the guidance of noted physician Dr. Rey Mariano, include the creation of a SARS prevention task force; development and implementation of SARS prevention guidelines; procurement and issuance of personal protection equipment and screening gadgets for SARS; education and information dissemination, travel advisories and guidelines; and enforcement of hand hygiene and environmental sanitation procedures.

The CDO-SARS task force is composed of employees from the personnel, medical and clinic, administrative, security and administrative departments. The task force oversees the overall implementation of the anti-SARS campaign to ensure that company employees will be spared from the deadly virus.

A memorandum addressed to all employees stressed the message that, as a food manufacturing concern, the company should lead and devise preventive measures and contingencies to ensure that the people in their various workplaces continue to be SARS-free.

All visitors and guests are screened at the entry gate of the food company in Valenzuela City. Foreign visitors and guests are required to present their passports and other pertinent records to be evaluated by the security and medical team. They are required to fill up the questionnaire form before entry.

An in-house information blitz about SARS is undertaken through various efforts such as seminars, posting of anti-SARS slogans in strategic places and distribution of SARS primers.

Hand hygiene instructions are also being strictly enforced in toilets and lavatories of the company, in addition to requiring the managers and supervisors to orient all their subordinates on proper hygiene and sanitation at all times.

Visitors with important transactions are given access only after they have gone through the nurses’ station for aural temperature check. Anyone with signs and symptoms of SARS shall be provided masks and hand sanitizers or alcohol to wash their hands before entry, Coralde said.

Personal visitors are not allowed access to the company premises and are asked to wait at the visitors’ lounge. Employees are asked to explain the company’s policy on entry restrictions to their visitors/guests or clients.

All employees’ and visitors’ restrooms are provided with disinfectants and alcohol to be used before and after using the toilets and urinals. Before leaving the restroom, they can use alcohol provided by the company to wash their hands.

Company frontliners (medical personnel, security, reception personnel, canteen staff and cashier) are issued masks, which they use when in close contact with employees and guests undergoing screening or when in contact with materials that may probably be contaminated with the virus.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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