Jamaica Gov’t To Investigate COVID-19 Outbreak At BPO

An investigation will be launched into the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) at the Alorica Jamaica business process outsouring (BPO) entity in Portmore, St. Catherine, to determine whether there were any breaches of established protocols and guidelines and whether charges are to be laid against the operator.

Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, made the discosure during a digital press conference on Tuesday (April 14).

“I’ve asked the Commissioner of Police to thoroughly investigate, along with the Health Department, the circumstances under which this outbreak took place and to pursue charges under the Disaster Risk Management Act,” he said.

“We cannot take this thing lightly and consequences must fall where we can establish culpability,” Holness added.

Of the 32 new confirmed cases of the virus over the last 24 hours, 31 are linked to the call centre, pushing Jamaica’s total confirmed cases to 105.

The parish has since been placed on a seven-day lockdown from 5:00 a.m. on Wednesday, April 15, through to 5:00 a.m. on Wednesday, April 22.

“What we will be doing in investigating is looking at whether or not there was any breakdown in our own procedures, whilst we also investigate to see what breakdowns there were in the particular company where the outbreak occurred,” the Prime Minister said.

“So yes, we will be looking to see whether or not we could have acted any earlier than we did. The fact is that as soon as a case came to our attention, the entire machinery of the Ministry of Health was mobilised,” he noted.

Mr. Holness said he has been in constant contact with the Global Services Association of Jamaica (formerly Business Process Industry Association of Jamaica) and is aware that most of the operators have been abiding by the Government’s protocols and those that were established for the BPO sector.

Additionally, Holness said he has been made aware that 26 per cent of the close to 40,000 employees in the industry have been working from home and there are plans to put other measures in place.

“But, it is clear that there were some operators who were not following protocol, who were not faithful in observing protocol,” the Prime Minister said, noting that he has intervened in instances where the matter was brought to his attention.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie, informed that health inspections were conducted in parishes where call centres are located when complaints arose about non-conformity to the protocols, and the results will be divulged.

She said that the Government is considering implementing additional measures for the call centres and will be offering advice in terms of the protocol for organisations that have large numbers of workers.