The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Wednesday said it is waiting for the enactment of the proposed Bayanihan to Recover as One (Bayanihan 2) Act to be able to hire additional contact tracers in response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
“Upon the enactment of the Bayanihan 2, we will initially recruit 50,000 new contact tracers,” Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said in a pre-SONA virtual briefing.
At present, Año said there are 4,818 contact tracing teams nationwide with 65,675 members.
He said the DILG needs around 87,000 contact tracers to strengthen fully its tracing ability.
“Baguio City Mayor Benjie Magalong is our czar on contact tracing. We continue to do consultations, dialogues, training and provide advice to affected LGUs (local government units), especially those implementing localized lockdown,” he added.
Año said the agency is also developing an automated contact tracing system.
“We are also developing the contact tracing e-system, where we will employ Covid-19 data collection tool, GIS (geographic information system) platform and analytical tool for link analysis,” he added.
He, however, cited the need for people to voluntarily report if they had close contact with or have been exposed to a Covid-19 positive patient.
“Sa bawat isang positive na nate-trace natin (For every positive patient that we trace) going back for 14 days, 37 close contacts ang nage-generate niyan at ito ay possible na maaring (each of them generates 37 close contacts and they could possibly be) infected. This is lots of work but we will do it and we will continue to strengthen contact tracing efforts. And with additional contact tracing members, we can defeat this Covid-19,” he said.
Earlier, the DILG issued Memorandum Circular 2020-077 directing LGUs to establish their own task forces against Covid-19, including contact tracing teams.
The task force would give the LGUs the authority to take the lead in contact tracing efforts.
A memorandum of agreement is existing among the DILG, the Department of Health (DOH), the Philippine National Police (PNP), and the Bureau of Fire and Protection (BFP) for data sharing and localization of contact tracing.
Earlier the Interior Secretary noted that the recruitment of contact tracers has been ongoing in Cebu and in the National Capital Region, where there is a big number of Covid-19 cases.
In a separate statement, Año directed all 42,045 barangays nationwide to create their own contact tracing teams (CTT) saying that as more communities are exposed to coronavirus transmissions, it is imperative to have contact tracers coming from the same community due to their familiarity and kinship with the residents of the barangay.
“We are in for the long haul until a vaccine is developed at kailangan nating labanan ang virus na ito mula sa mga pamayanan (and from our communities, we need to fight this virus). CTTs in barangays will be the first responders to ensure that all residents, especially the ones who are infected together with their immediate families, are monitored and accounted for,” Año said.
He said that having contact tracers in the barangays will boost the country’s anti-Covid-19 campaign.
He said that they have tapped the Local Government Academy and the Philippine Public Safety College in training all contact tracers which will be organized by the barangay. (PNA)