LOCAL government units need to intensify their contact tracing efforts to better manage the increasing number of coronavirus infections in their jurisdictions, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) said yesterday as the country recorded a high 5,404 new cases since August last year.
Interior Undersecretary and spokesman Jonathan Malaya said LGUs can have the upper hand in stopping the spread of the virus in their communities if health authorities knew who were exposed to residents who have contracted the disease.
Malaya expressed his concerns over the low contact tracing ratio in the country, a day after contact tracing czar and Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong lamented the sluggish contact tracing efforts of local executives.
“Ang gusto po sana ng DILG, kung hindi natin maabot yung 1:30, at least 1:15 man lang sana ang ma-contact trace natin, ma-isolate and ma-test lahat ng mga close contacts ng lahat ng ating mga positives (What the DILG wants to happen is, if we cannot reach the 1:30 ratio, then at least let us reach 1:15 – contact trace, isolate and test all the close contacts of all positives),” said Malaya.
Magalong has complained that instead of improving, the contact tracing ratio for COVID-19 patients and their close contacts has gone to 1:6 from a high of 1:10.
The government has hired over 250,000 contract tracers under the supervision of the LGUs.
“Patuloy po kaming nagpapaala sa mga mga local government units na huwag lamang sa first level ang contact tracing (We continue to remind the local government units not to focus only the first level of contact tracing),” said Malaya.
“Hindi lamang dun sa nakahalubilo ng positibo, ngunit ‘yung mga nakahalubilo din ng nakahalubilo nung COVID positive (Not only the close contact of the positive but also the close contact of the close contact of the COVID positive),” he said.
Malaya said this means the second and third generation close contacts of the infected person should also be traced.
“Kinakalampag po ng DILG ngayon ang lahat ng mga LGUS kasi sila po ang nagpapatakbo ng contact tracing program dahil local nga po ‘yan, kinakalampag sya para mas maging maigting at mas marami pang close contacts ang mahanap ng ating mga contact tracers.
(The DILG is calling on the LGUS, since they are in charge of the contact tracing program since this is local, we are calling on them to step up so that more close contacts will be traced by our contact tracers),” said Malaya.
DILGT undersecretary for operations Epimaco Densing III had earlier said the cities of Manila, San Juan and Taguig and the town of Pateros are the only LGUs in Metro Manila that have met the World Health Organization and Department of Health standards of 1:800 contact tracer-population ratio.
“The rest of the cities in Metro Manila lack contact tracers,” Densing has said, referring to the cities of Caloocan, Las Piñas, Makati, Malabon, Mandaluyong, Marikina, Muntinlupa, Navotas, Parañaque, Pasay, Pasig, Quezon, and Valenzuela.
Densing also said that some LGUs outside Metro Manila were not compliant with the WHO and DOH standards.