The local government of Quezon City (QC) on Thursday (Aug. 13) urged public and private hospitals and laboratories in the city to immediately send them the list of their patients who tested positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in a bid to speed up the city’s contact tracing efforts.
Dr. Rolly Cruz, head of the City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (CESU), said that “it has been a challenge for CESU to conduct contact tracing because there is a three- to four-day delay in the data forwarded to the city by the Department of Health (DOH).”
“We have to be proactive and get the line list from other sources aside from the national government,” Cruz said, so they “are requesting hospitals, laboratories, and other disease-reporting units in QC to provide us with the line list as soon as they can, and on a regular basis.”
Meanwhile, Joseph Juico, lead coordinator of the city’s COVID-19 response program, noted that the delay in contact tracing due to the lack of data can cause damaging “ripple effects,” such as locking down communities for two weeks due to possible spread of infection caused by silent carriers.
“If data is incomplete and delayed, instead of nipping infections in the bud, we end up locking down whole communities for 14 days, because the virus has already spread,” he said. “If we have patients’ complete contact details immediately, we can prevent them from infecting others and arrest community transmission.”
Mayor Joy Belmonte has called for private and public health institutions to collaborate and coordinate with the city “towards improving data gathering and recording.”
“When data is incomplete and reported late, the response of the city suffers,” Belmonte said, adding that adding more contact tracers and facilities will be “futile, if the data is too poor to be of any use.”
Belmonte recently hit the DOH for its alleged failure to provide complete information about some of the city’s COVID-19 patients, which caused delays in the local government’s contact tracing efforts “by days.”
She had written an appeal to DOH Secretary Francisco Duque for the health department to speedily furnish the city a complete list of profiles of their COVID-19 patients.