Wanted: 50K contact tracers

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    INTERIOR Secretary Eduardo Año yesterday said the government needs 50,000 more contact tracers to boost its efforts to control the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) through early identification of possible disease carriers.

    Año said there are currently 238,000 contact tracers deployed to the country’s provinces, most of whom are volunteers and augmentation forces from the Philippine National Police, the Bureau of Fire Protection and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

    In a television interview, Año said the DILG is now readying to hire the additional 50,000 contact tracers, of which 20,000 will be deployed in Luzon provinces, and 15,000 each for the Visayas and Mindanao regions.

    Año said the assignment of the contact tracers will be based on their region of origin. The hiring of additional contact tracers to augment the present number is authorized under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, or the Bayanihan II, which President Duterte has yet to sign into law.

    A P5 billion allocation has been set aside for the hiring of the extra contact tracers in the Bayanihan II. Año said the contract tracers who will be hired will receive a monthly salary of P18,000 plus incentives.

    Meanwhile, Baguio City Mayor and contact tracing czar Benjamin Magalong yesterday said the national government’s contact tracing efforts still need a lot of improvement as many local government units (LGUs) continue to average five traced persons for every one person (1:5 ratio) who has tested positive for COVID-19.

    Magalong, during the Laging Handa public briefing, said the ideal ratio is to trace a maximum of 37 persons who came in contact with an infected patient (1:37), or at least 30 persons for every COVID-19 patient (1:30). – With Jocelyn Montemayor  

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