By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
The Department of Health (DOH) is looking to coordinate with the Philippine National Police (PNP) on tracing the persons who had contact with the two Chinese nationals who tested positive for the novel Coronavirus (2019-nCov).
This, as Secretary Francisco Duque III ordered an “aggressive” contact tracing of the passengers who were with the Chinese couple when they travelled to the country and within the country last January 21.
The contact tracing must be conducted and finished “as soon as possible,” he said.
“Sabi ko nga (I told them), they have to work with the PNP, the DILG (Department of Interior and Local Government), to do the aggressive contact tracing in 48 hours. Titingnan kung kakayanin. (We will see if they can do that),” Duque said in an interview Tuesday after the Senate hearing on the government’s plans for containing the 2019-nCoV.
Duque said the DOH will meet with the PNP about their coordination, particularly on how they would be able to conduct the contact tracing at a much faster pace.
It was Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, former PNP chief, who proposed to the DOH to coordinate with police. He said the PNP will be able to do this within a few days.
Duque was criticized by senators on Tuesday after he reported that only 17 percent of 331 passengers, had been contacted by the DOH.
He blamed airline companies Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific for supposedly not sharing the contact details of the passengers. Airline officials have denied this, saying they have since been coordinating with authorities and have submitted the names of the passengers who were seated close to the infected Chinese nationals.
Duque said he will have this investigated because his people at the DOH’s Epidemiology Bureau supposedly told him that the airlines refused to cooperate.
“Heads will roll, of course,” if concerned DOH personnel are found to be negligent about the contract tracing of the said airline passengers, he said
The Chinese couple were from Wuhan, China, the source of the virus, and arrived in the Philippines via Hong Kong last January 21.
One of them, a 44-year-old man, died on Saturday after being infected with the 2019-nCov. He was the first 2019-nCov death recorded outside of China.