As part of the government’s intensified contact tracing efforts, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) today said that over 69,000 contact tracers have been deployed nationwide to track down and manage close contacts, reduce the spread of infection, and to offer diagnostic, counselling and treatment to confirmed COVID-19 cases.
DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año said that 69,098 contact tracers assigned to 5,215 contact tracing teams nationwide are now actively aiding communities in monitoring both asymptomatic and symptomatic COVID-19 patients and their close contacts daily for 14 days beginning from the last point of exposure.
“Our local contact tracing teams nationwide are working double-time to interrupt the transmission and reduce the spread of infection. This way, we can cover all the bases in the end-to-end trace-test-treat (T3) management system against this virus,” Año said.
He said that the number of contact tracers is continuously increasing because many volunteers from the communities are also coming forward and helping in efforts to monitor and search for those who have had close contacts with COVID-19 cases. “We are also awaiting the approval of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to our proposal of hiring at least 50,000 contact tracers to further intensify our contact tracing efforts,” he said.
According to Año, the country’s contact tracing capacity stands at 98.2% as of July 17, as local contact tracing teams have so far traced 47,474 out of 48,371 confirmed cases and their 161,975 close contacts.
MIMAROPA, Regions V, Region IX, Caraga, and BARMM have 100% contact tracing capability. On the other hand, Regions X, VI, and II have the lowest capacity with 87.47%, 80.11%, and 74.41%.
Año also welcomed the designation of Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong as the new anti-COVID czar on contact tracing because he has expertise in the field owing to his experience as former chief of the PNP Central Investigation and Detection Group.
“With Mayor Benjie leading the government’s contact tracing efforts, I am sure that the country’s contact tracing capability will significantly improve,” he said.
WHO has earlier stressed the need for the country to beef up its tracing efforts and testing capacity to allow local government units to isolate possible cases to prevent the spread of the virus.
99% CTT efficiency in Cebu City
Meanwhile, DILG Spokesperson and Undersecretary Jonathan E. Malaya said that the 99% efficiency of contact tracing teams in Cebu City and other quarantine measures is instrumental in the reduction of the transmission in the said province.
In a report submitted to the DILG Central Office, Malaya said that a total of 31 CTTs in Cebu City with all 149 members are devoted to the contact tracing efforts. So far, 7,589 out of 7,685 COVID-19 cases have been traced, and 9,828 contacts have been assessed.
“We have been seeing a downward trend in the city, and this is partly because of the work of our contact tracers,” Malaya said.
He said that the government will continue its intensified whole-of-nation approach including close monitoring and assistance to COVID-19 patients and their close contacts, quarantine or isolation facilities, management of locally stranded individuals, close coordination of funeral parlors and crematoria for the management of the dead and the missing, issuance of show cause orders to erring LGUs, and monitoring of SAP second tranche distribution.