MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Thursday said it has ordered all its employees to undergo rapid tests for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
In a statement, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said the directive covers all 3,000 officials and employees of the bureau nationwide.
“We have decided to make these tests compulsory for all our personnel to further safeguard the health of our employees and the people who transact business in our offices due to the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the country,” he said.
Immigration employees who will refuse to take the test will not be allowed to work, he added.
BI staff assigned in different immigration field offices and subports outside Metro Manila are likewise instructed to coordinate with the local government units in their respective areas for the conduct of free COVID-19 tests for frontliners.
As an added precautionary measure, Morente said that all accredited liaison officers and representatives of travel agencies and law offices transacting at the bureau to undergo the said tests or they will not be allowed entry into the bureau’s premises.
The BI said the mandatory tests for its employees started Wednesday at their main building in Intramuros and the activity was done with the help of the Manila city government which dispatched a team of frontliners from the city health office to conduct the tests.
The directive comes after the bureau on Monday closed its main office for disinfection after one of its employees contracted coronavirus.
The bureau’s medical section has previously conducted several mass rapid tests at the bureau’s main office, Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), Clark Airport and its detention facility in Taguig City but these were all voluntary.
According to BI Acting Spokesman Melvin Mabulac, only about a third of the bureau’s 3,157 employees voluntarily took part in the previous rapid tests conducted by the bureau’s medical team.
Mabulac also said that another round of tests for BI-NAIA personnel and those of the bureau’s satellite and extension offices in the capital will be conducted in the next few days.
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