By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto has agreed with the proposal to hire contract tracers to help the government contain the COVID-19 outbreak as well as mitigate unemployment as an offshoot of the enforcement of community quarantine measures.
Recto, in a statement, said hiring contact tracers “is a good way to stop the second wave of the pandemic from coming and to stem the tsunami of joblessness”.
He said such a “cash-for-work” scheme should be the “template” in providing emergency employment to the millions of Filipinos rendered jobless by COVID-19 and the resulting restrictions to curb its spread.
“Instead of purely handouts, pay them to lend a helping hand in fighting the disease,” the Senate leader said.
The government’s economic team had proposed the hiring of at least 136,000 people to help in tracing those who had close contact with COVID-19 patients.
Citing the latest Department of Health (DOH) report, Recto said there are only 38,315 contact tracers out of the ideal 126,225, or a shortage of 95,427.
As of May 14, these contact tracers were able to reach and identify the 60,586 individuals that 11,618 confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients came into contact with.
The average six close contacts per one COVID-19 patient is “quite on the low side”,” Recto said.
With this, he urged President Duterte to give the green light the recruitment of contact tracers.
“If 160 of your security personnel have tested positive for COVID-19, if it has penetrated your security ring, then it gives you a snapshot of the big picture,” he told the President, alluding to members of the Presidential Security Group who have reportedly contracted the viral disease.