Late last week, a confidant who sought anonymity exclusively revealed to cnyakundi.com that the deadly COVID-19 virus had invaded several Absa Group Limited (Formerly Barclays Bank) branches in Nairobi and Mombasa.
At the time of reporting, the concerned staffer disclosed that few or no measures had been taken by the institution’s hierarchy to prevent the further spread of the virus to both customers and other employees.
Hardly 72 hours since our publication, fresh information reaching this site’s Chief Editor shows that the COVID-19 situation at Absa Kenya has since worsened and now risks hitting the fan.
As it stands, up to 28 employees have tested positive with more expected to receive their test results soon.
“Hi Cyprian, I have additional information regarding the Absa Kenya COVID-19 situation. Things have become so bad but the bank’s administration is covering up stuff and not even doing anything to prevent risk of infection to customers, service providers or even family members.
So far, 4 employees in Embakasi Branch, 6 at the Nyali Branch and 19 at the Nkrumah Road Branch in Mombasa have tested positive for Coronavirus following mass testings conducted last week on Sunday by Lancet Kenya.
Absa Bank’s administration, the staffer said through an email, is reportedly working round the clock to cover up the outbreak at the expense of other employees, external service providers and customers who risk contracting the virus.
“The worst part is the Bank has asked the positive employees to self isolate at their homes without even caring whether it was possible. Some of the employees are from the clerical Branch. Most of the staff live in one bedroom houses which they share share with spouses and children, ” she sadly narrates.
When the affected staff requested for support from the bank since they could not self isolate in the big houses, the HR manager only identified as Mercy is said to have advised them to ask the rest of the family members to move out or stay in a hotel for the designated 14 days.
The staff even requested the bank to assist them in planning isolation arrangements with a hotel or furnished apartments but their request was denied.
“The bank claimed their request’s cost was too high. Secondly, it has been more than a week since these staff tested positive. The bank has not even facilitated the testing of their family members or even contact traced, which means they are aiding continuous spread of the virus,” she continues.
The COVID-19 positive employees have on numerous occasions begged the bank to arrange for testing of their kin and close contacts but the the institution has refused citing costs and falsely claiming that the matter has been handed over to the Mutahi Kagwe-les Ministry of Health.
“They advised the affected employees to ask their family members to seek testing at private labs. This issue has caused grave anxiety and left the employees in total shock.
As a result, they have caused anguish to their families too. ”
Even more devastating, she adds, is the bank has refused to test service providers like cleaners who work in the same branches with the same excuse of high costs.
This is despite the obvious fact that these service providers are also at a risk of being infected and many of them cannot afford private tests.
“They are currently very stressed and disappointed at Absa Bank for exposing them to COVID-19 and thereafter refusing to facilitate their tests, most of these cleaners still continue to work and could be spreading the same virus,”
The affected staff who turned positive are believed to have come into direct contact with customers they had been serving.
The narrator, a Sales Officer personally confesses how she came into direct contact with over 40 customers in the week prior to her test results.
“The Bank has refused to contact trace customers who came into contact with us or advise them to go for testing. They say they are afraid of bad publicity and negative media coverage! As I write this email, customers still continue to be served served in the affected branches unaware of their situation. This is such a big risk and selfish move by Absa Bank,”
The Director of Customer Networks Peter Mutua allegedly instructed the Branch Managers to ensure that no staff discloses the situation to any customer lest dire action be taken on them.
Peter Mutua is also claimed to have insisted the bank has no money to pay for private tests and demanded that tests be conducted at government institutions where no payment is needed.
“Cyprian, the MD has not even reached to the affected staff.
This is the worst ever treatment by a Bank,”
If that’s not bad enough, the Bank is also terminating contracts of sales employees on unclear “performance grounds”, despite the current tough economic times brought forth by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Peter Mutua has directed the Branch managers to hire tellers only on contract.
I just wonder, what happened to the Great Barclays Bank? This Absa Bank is discriminative and horrible. Who sacks a staff who has worked for you for over 10 years just because they didn’t meet their 2020 monthly targets?,” she finishes off.
On Sunday, Kenya’s Health CAS Dr. Rashid Aman confirmed 309 more COVID-19 cases bringing the number of positive cases recorded in the country so far to 7,886.
Since it broke out, the pandemic has not spared corporate institutions.
Last week, al the 13 COVID-19 cases recorded in Meru County were Safaricom staff based at the company’s customer care shop in Meru town.
Ahead of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s planned reopening of Nairobi and Mombasa as he previously promised, experts say despite delays in testing, recent cases being reported show an exponential increase in the spread of the virus.
They are now calling for an elaborate plan to protect the elderly and vulnerable people if President Uhuru Kenyatta goes ahead with the plan to lift the lockdown.
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