The Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC) said today that it is taking all necessary precautions for workers, in line with the COVID-19 preventative measures and interim guidelines recommended by the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH).
The SC said in a statement issued today that the SC have utilized its existing network of medical clinics across all sites and accommodations, and implemented awareness sessions delivered on construction sites and accommodations to educate workers on the importance of prevention, and taking workers' temperatures twice daily, and the distribution of masks and sanitizers on SC projects. In case of shortage of masks, personal scarves used by workers were advised for use.
The statement added that non-essential visitors to SC construction sites prohibited and isolation rooms established on all SC sites and accommodations. Interim disinfection protocols have been implemented at site and accommodation medical facilities. All healthcare professionals are following Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) measures to control COVID-19 outbreak.
The SC pointed out that workers with chronic disease and those above 55 years have been temporarily demobilized from site due to them being more vulnerable to COVID-19. The SC is ensuring that they stay in SC compliant accommodation and they continue to receive salaries.
It carried out inspections of existing caterers' kitchen facilities and based on risk assessment, identified caterers that either need to upgrade their kitchen operations; or be replaced with a caterer that is equipped with better facilities, so as to ensure in both cases that higher standards are in place to mitigate against the COVID-19.
The SC consulted with in-house doctor to identify a list of food items that are both recommended for consumption as well as those that should be prohibited (as these items make them more vulnerable to COVID-19). The same has been circulated to all the caterers serving food on the SC sites.
It developed a Task Specific Inspection (TSI) checklist and conducted inspections across all the SC construction site mess hall with an objective to identify if all the requirements with respect to hygiene and sanitation are met. The SC is currently evaluating the possibility of relocating workers residing in a non-SC accommodation to a centralized SC compliant and managed accommodation.
The SC carried out a risk assessment across all SC projects including work sites and accommodation sites to determine which workers are most at risk of contracting COVID-19. This assessment allows SC a greater chance to control the virus spreading to our workforce and Qatar's wider population.
The SC is screening workers where applicable. All workers with upper respiratory tract symptoms are examined by our work site doctors and nurses following the MoPH Visual Triage screening. Only suspected cases are reported as per MoPH Reporting Guidelines.
The SC said:
"To date we have no confirmed cases on SC sites, but we are monitoring all projects and will act accordingly if any worker shows symptoms. The SC's clinics are reporting criteria for suspected cases fulfilling the requirement of MOPH for reporting on a daily basis. This reporting is taking place through unified confidential software, the SystmOne software, introduced by the SC in partnership with The Phoenix Partnership (TPP), which offers an integrated electronic records system for workers - a first of its kind in Qatar,"
The SC added that SystmOne is supporting the clinics by ensuring uninterrupted anytime, anywhere access to workers medical information. TPP has also created several clinical decision support tools to enable clinicians to correctly record and manage suspected COVID- 19 cases in accordance with MoPH guidelines. The SC has further established isolation rooms at all of its workers' accommodation sites to test suspected cases and provide appropriate medical care.
The SC is regularly screening workers where applicable. All workers with upper respiratory tract symptoms are examined by our work site doctors and nurses following the MoPH Visual Triage screening. Only suspected cases are reported as per MoPH Reporting Guidelines. As per MoPH protocol, testing for COVID-19 is only permitted to take place within Hamad General Hospital and CDC assigned hospitals.
The SC has a comprehensive medical framework on all projects and accommodations, including dedicated nurses, doctors and clinics. The SC's Workers' Welfare Department has its own doctor who is responsible for coordinating the work of all healthcare professionals connected to our projects.
The SC is on alert for any COVID-19 symptoms and, if detected, will follow MoPH protocol. The SC also has a robust contingency plan in place, with adequate resources ready to provide sufficient medical care if conditions worsen.
"All COVID-19-related healthcare is provided free of charge by Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC). Treatment for any other medical condition is provided by HMC or provided by our contractors, as per the SC's mandated Workers' Welfare Standards."
Assuming necessary flight restrictions do not impact routes to the home countries of workers, anyone can travel to their home countries in the case of an emergency, the SC said, adding that any further changes to the State of Qatar's evolving travel policy will be strictly adhered to by the SC and its contractors.
The SC will work with its contractors to ensure workers that are currently on leave will be able to report to duty once the airports reopen.
The SC has established isolation rooms in separate blocks and / or buildings on all of our accommodations and will continue to follow MoPH protocol.
According to the SC:
"We will continue to test where relevant, with any suspected cases reported to the relevant authorities with the appropriate action taken."
On 31 March 2020 the Ministry of Administrative Development Labour and Social Affairs (MADLSA) announced that workers in quarantine and isolation will be paid full salary without any deduction and it is mandatory for employers and companies to follow the policies. As much as QR 3bn has been earmarked to pay the salaries of workers and rents of the employers which could be utilized through banks to pay the wages of laborers and paying the rent due on companies.
Under article 82 of the Qatari Labour Law, employees are entitled to sick leave with pay for each year of service, unless within the first three months of employment, and provided the employee can provide a medical report issued by a competent physician approved by the employer.
The SC said:
"Employees are entitled to full sick pay for two weeks, reducing to half pay thereafter for a further four weeks. Sick leave can be extended for a maximum of six weeks beyond this period until the worker either resumes his duties or is unable to return to work due to health reasons.
"If an employee chooses to resign from his job during the first six weeks of sick leave, his or her employer is liable to settle the balance of all financial entitlements. This provision shall also apply in the event of death by reason of sickness before the end of the aforementioned six weeks. If an employee takes sick leave for the full 12-week period, this does not constitute an interruption of continuous service and will not affect any end of service gratuity which is owed.
"Companies may provide benefits beyond the law at their own discretion. The SC remains in constant dialogue with all of our contractors and will engage with contractors on a case-by-case basis if any issues directly relating to salary payment occur. As we have no confirmed cases, this is not currently an issue."
On the possibility of suspending work on SC projects if there is a breakout of coronavirus (COVID-19) amongst SC worker, the SC said it will assess each situation on a case-by-case basis and will take the necessary measures to protect the health and safety of all construction workers and direct staff, which may include temporary suspension of work as and when required.
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