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Report them - St James Health Department says it’s not afraid to prove COVID breaches

Published:Tuesday | October 13, 2020 | 12:10 AMHopeton Bucknor/Gleaner Writer

Western Bureau:

A number of call centre workers in Montego Bay, St James, have told The Gleaner that they are dissatisfied with how some managers have been handling their operations and are fearful that enough is not being done to keep them safe from the coronavirus.

The workers said that when colleagues show up to work with symptoms consistent with those of COVID-19, they are sent home and the locations cleaned overnight with staff being ordered back to work in the morning without any consideration as to whether other workers could have been exposed and are asymptomatic.

While admitting that he has not received any reports from disgruntled call workers, Lennox Wallace, the parish manager for the St James Health Department, says he is open to investigating whatever complaints are made.

“Any facility that we get complaints about, by law, we must investigate, whether it is for COVID-19 situation or any matter that relates to public health or the Disaster Risk Management Act,” Wallace told The Gleaner yesterday.

He warned that any facility found to be disregarding COVID-19 protocols would be shuttered without hesitation.

Wallace used last week’s situation with the Teleperformance call centre, which his department order closed after uncovering breaches, as an example of what would happen when breaches are found. Some 18 employees at Teleperformance were found to have contracted the COVID-19 virus, which, in part, triggered the order for it to temporary close until the concerns were satisfactorily addressed.

Monitored once per week

“As far as Teleperformance is concerned, after closing down the facility, we would have revisited the property to ensure compliance, and based on what we would have seen, we would have ordered the property to be reopened, but under certain conditions,” explained Wallace. “The property will be monitored once per week, like all other BPO facilities operating on the Freezone. Should we find a breach, we will ensure that the breach is corrected, and we will use the Disaster Risk Management Act and the Public Health Act to ensure that all properties ... abide by the laws of Jamaica.”

Wallace said the closure of a facility is usually the last resort, but he encouraged personal responsibility and urged managers to play by the rules and ensure that all the properties at the Freezone are in compliance.