The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) maintained Sunday that aggressive contact tracing is a game changer against COVID-19 in the country.
DILG Secretary Eduardo Año cited that “aggressive contact tracing is the key to the success of the COVID-19 response in Metropolitan Cebu and Baguio City."
“We did a lot of things in Cebu but among all our interventions, we are making progress now because of contact tracing,” Año said.
He maintained that aggressive contact tracing is vital in battling the country’s COVID-19 cases which have surges in the last couple of days.
“It will be a “game changer” to the entire country if Congress will allocate funds for the hiring and deployment of additional contact tracers under Bayanihan 2,’’ Año said.
While contact tracing efforts are already being done by more than 7,000 contact tracing teams, Año still cited the need to hire at “least 50,000 more to meet the WHO recommended ratio of one contact tracer for every 800 people."
Currently, the country has more than 85,000 contact tracers.
“With a projected population of 108 million this year, we need 50,000 more contact tracers to attain the ideal number of 135,000 contact tracers to significantly ramp up our contact tracing efforts in all parts of the country but with emphasis on hot spots like Metro Manila and surrounding provinces,” he added.
The DILG chief noted the current number of contact tracers cannot meet the recommendations of Contact Tracing Czar Mayor Benjamin Magalong of “a 1:37 patient to close contacts ratio in order to cut the transmission of the disease."
“We need to significantly increase the number of contact tracers to meet the 1:37 ratio target recommended by Mayor Magalong which has been effective in Baguio and in Cebu City,” he added. Dr. Takeshi Kasai, director of the WHO office for Western Pacific, and Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, country representative, has also recommended to the DILG the ramping up of the country’s contact tracing efforts as part of the WHO’s continuing documentation of the country’s best practices in response to the pandemic.
The WHO has recognized as a best practice the new contact tracing system developed by Magalong which combined digital technology and cognitive interviews by contact tracers.
Through the DILG, Magalong has been sharing the new system with other local government units as part of his responsibilities as the National Task Force contact tracing czar.