Strict measures for BPOs as COVID-19 cases surge in Jamaica

  • Another call centre closes amid possible case

Stricter measures have been implemented for business process outsourcing (BPO) companies as another closed yesterday amid fear that an employees was exposed to the new coronavirus (COVID-19).

Prime Minister of Jamaica Andrew Holness speaking in the Lower House of Parliament in Kingston, Jamaica. (File photo)

Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness, told Parliament yesterday that BPOs that remain open will now have to follow more stringent procedures after a counterpart, Alorica Jamaica, in Portmore, St Catherine saw 52 of its employees confirmed for the virus over the past 48 hours so far.

Holness said handwashing and sanitation facilities must be at the entrance to all BPOs, in lunchrooms and recreational spaces.

Further, the companies will now have to provide individual headsets for each employee as of April 21. He said headsets, which are more difficult to sanitise than workstations, were currently being shared by staff members across shifts.

Fifty-two tests have returned positive results so far from the Alorica Jamaica samples.

Employees will now be given mandatory temperature check, which must be logged, before entering the building. In addition, Holness said workstations must be at least six from each other to maintain social distance.

Staff members who have flu-like or respiratory symptoms are also required to stay home.

Additionally, he said BPO operators must close its location and inform the Health and Wellness Ministry should one of its employees test positive for the virus.

The move comes just two days after the country’s total confirmed cases spiked after just over 30 cases were confirmed at the Alorica location in Portmore. Yesterday, another 20 results of employees from the company returned positive results, bringing its total to 52, almost a half of the island’s 125 confirmed cases.

Last evening, another BPO facility, Sutherland Global, closed its location on South Camp Road in St Andrew following concerns that a staff member may have been exposed to the virus. The employee, who is a close contact of an Alorica team member who tested positive, has since been tested by health officials with results expected within the next 72 hours.

However, Sutherland Global’s country head, Doug Almond, said that the facility was closed at 8:00 p.m. last evening out of caution.

Almond said the facility will remain closed until otherwise advised, adding that the entire site will be deep cleaned and fumigated in the meantime.

“The decision to close the facility was made with your health and safety in mind, as well as out of concern for the wider Jamaican population,” Almond said in a statement to employees. “

He urged employees to self-quarantine and contact the Health Ministry if they develop flu-like symptoms.