Tap social media in contact tracing –Defensor

Published August 7, 2020, 9:41 PM

by Ben Rosario

A senior administration congressman on Friday called on the Department of Health (DOH) to tap the social media in the conduct of contact tracing of individuals who may have possibly been infected of COVID-19 due to close interaction with a person who tested positive of the deadly disease.

Anakalusugan Party-List Rep. Mike Defensor (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Anakalusugan Rep. Mike Defensor reiterated this proposal which he first recommended during a recent hearing of the Committee on Good Government of which he is a vice chairman.

“We should make full use of Facebook and other social media platforms. We have 75 million FB users and we are one of the most active nations in terms of social media,” Defensor said.

During the hearing a representative from the Department of Interior and Local Government said contact tracing via the internet is being conducted through the Stay Safe application.

“If think even Facebook which is very popular can be utilized in this endeavor,” Defensor stated

 “We should utilize social media in terms of reporting and contact tracing, where we have miserably failed. I have friends who tested positive for the infectious virus and none of them has been asked who they had interacted with,” he stressed.

He said there are also contact tracing applications the DOH could use.

The partylist solon explained  that even in poor communities in urban and rural areas, people use mobile phones, and FB and other social media to communicate with their relatives and friends here and abroad.

“With social media, we can determine where infected persons were in the past 14 days and who they were in close contact with,” he stressed.

In the same congressional hearing that looked into the conditions of locally stranded individuals, Deputy Speaker Dan Fernandez called on the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging and Infectious Diseases to also go after persons guilty of maltreating or discriminating upon COVID-19 patients.

On Tuesday, Fernandez proposed the conduct of a “shame and fame campaign” as part of measures to fight the dreaded disease.

In his proposal, the Laguna lawmaker urged the IATF to encourage the public to use the word “bayaniyan” to describe COVID-19 patients who volunteer to open up and reveal their identities to help government in its contact tracing efforts.

He coined the word “maytamayan” to refer to people who discriminate against persons suffering from the dreaded ailment.

“It’s high time we start a ‘shame and fame campaign’ as a weapon in this difficult fight against COViD-19.  I appeal  to government and the public to join hands in pursuing this drive,” the administration lawmaker said.

According to Fernandez, several high officials and legislators fit the “bayanihan” description for declaring their COVID-19 condition after testing positive for the disease.

Among them are Senators Juan Miguel Zubiri and Juan Edgardo Angara;  Cabinet Secretaries Eduardo Ano, Mark Villar and Leonor Briones; television personalities Howie Severino and Michael V. 

Fernandez noted that  the House of Representatives also has its share of “bayaniyan.”  They are Deputy Speaker Johnny Pimentel (Surigao del Sur); Reps. Henry Villarica (Laguna);  Samier Tan (Sulu) and Eric Go-Yap (ACT-CIS Partylist).

He explained that Yap should be commended for promptly telling the House media that he tested positive for COVID 19 although the Department of Health later admitted error and disclosed that the solon had a negative test result.