Magalong confident gov’t efforts vs COVID-19 will bear fruit

Published July 15, 2020, 12:04 PM

by Jeffrey Damicog

Newly appointed contact tracing czar and Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong on Wednesday expressed optimism the government’s efforts in addressing the 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic will yield positive results by August.

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

“I believe working together with them and now that we have our own focus, sa tingin ko magkakaroon ng magandang resulta ito (I believe it will yield good results). We can feel the results sometime in August,” Magalong said in an interview with CNN Philippines.

It was only last Monday, July 13, that Malacañang announced Magalong’s designation as contact tracing czar, Public Works Secretary Mark Villar as isolation czar, and Health Secretary Leopoldo Vega as treatment czar.

“I believe this would be the most responsive model na nagawa ng ating Secretary Galvez (COVID-19 response chief implementer and peace process Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr.),” Magalong said, even as he admitted the move a tad late.

“Parang sa basketball, parang nasa crunch time tayo, pinasok tayo last five minutes tapos lamang yung kalaban ng mga 30 points (It’s like in basketball, we entered during crunch time with five minutes left and the opponent is leading by 30 points),” Magalong explained. “But you know it’s not impossible. You have just to be optimistic about it. You have to be dynamic. You have to innovate.”

The mayor admitted the task challenging with national cases obviously larger compared to the figures he usually handles in Baguio.

“Kasi nga ang pinakamahirap sa contact tracing kung marami ng kaso (because what is difficult in contact tracing is when there are many cases),” he pointed out. “Unlike if you still have a few cases or you do not have any case and you immediately have established your contact tracing capability just like what we did in the city of Baguio.”

Despite this, he expressed hope that, under the new system he will be implementing, at least 82.5 percent of persons considered high risk cases will be found, tested and isolated in 12 hours.

“When you say contact-traced, na-swab na yan, na-isolate na yan (it means they are also swabbed for virus tests and isolated),” he explained. “Ganoon din ang plano nating gawin sa NCR (That’s what we plan to do with the NCR). Kahit na imposible mangyari (Even if it is impossible to do) we just simply have to aim high.”

Magalong went on to urge the public to support the government’s contact tracing efforts.

“We need volunteers,” said Magalong. “We are looking for funding for the 50,000 contact tracers na ire-recruit ng Department of Interior and Local Government.”