Magalong to tap persons with ‘investigative mindset’ to join contact tracing teams

Published July 13, 2020, 7:29 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

Persons with an “investigative mindset,” including former investigators and intelligence personnel, can be tapped to help track down patients with suspected coronavirus infection,  Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong said Monday.

Mayor Benjamin Magalong (JJ Landingin / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)
Mayor Benjamin Magalong (JJ Landingin / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Magalong said the contact tracing teams will be mainly composed of health workers, police personnel and technical support but these could also be augmented by persons with background on investigation, criminology and intelligence work. 

The former head of the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) has been designated as the country’s czar on contact tracing efforts in the battle against the coronavirus. He has been widely praised for his pandemic response, particularly efficient contact tracing method, in Baguio City.

“We are talking about the interviewers because this will be composed of PNP investigators at health workers. Unang-una, partnership po ito, kailangan din po natin ng doctors, kailangan din po natin ng nurses. Kailangan din po natin ng mga retired investigators or law enforcement investigators (First, this is a partnership. We will need doctors, nurses, retired investigators or law enforcement investigators),” he said during a televised press briefing Monday.

“Probably, kung talagang kulang na kulang na po tayo, kailangan po nating kumuha ng mga dating mga criminologist. Puwede rin po nating kunin iyong mga retired na intelligence personnel (Probably if we face a shortage, we will get former criminologists. We can also get retired intelligence personnel),” he said.

The new contact tracers will be trained on “cognitive interviewing” to effectively trace close contacts of a coronavirus patient, according to Magalong.

“Ang pinakaimportante po dito na qualification ay mayroon kahit papano pong tinatawag nating investigative mindset, iyong inquisitive iyong tao (The most important qualification is having an investigative mindset, an inquisitive person),” he said.

He said the analysts, encoders, technical support and community support teams will also be tapped to assist in the contact tracing efforts.  He said the training of contact tracers on cognitive interviewing and technology applications such as COVID-19 data collection tool, geographical information, and analytical tool-link analysis may take a week.

“Gusto ko lang pong banggitin sa inyo na radically ay babaguhin po natin iyong structure ng ating contact tracing system (I want to tell you that we will radically change the structure of our contact tracing system),” he said.

As of July 13, the country has recorded 57,006 cases of coronavirus with 1,599 deaths and 20,371 recoveries.