Contact tracing efforts should be enhanced - DILG

The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Tuesday strongly pushed for the enhancement of contact tracing efforts to curb COVID-19 transmission something that the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) is supporting fully, said Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque in yesterday’s press briefing.

Last August 12, contact tracing czar and Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong pointed to weak contact tracing efforts under municipal health offices as the main cause of the skyrocketing tally of COVID-19 cases in the country.

DILG Undersecretary and spokesperson Jonathan Malaya shares Magalong’s frustration “that is why in the LGU CODE visits we are doing everyday, we are pushing the mayors hard on their contact tracing efforts."

COVID-19 cases in the Philippines surged dramatically in the last several days.

Some reports said the country has already dislodged Indonesia among Southeast Asian countries with the most number of COVID-19 cases.

Roque downplayed the claim saying the rise in COVID-19 cases is simply due to the country's increased testing capacity.

The Department of Health (DOH) reported that as of August 17, the Philippines has logged 164,474 COVID-19 cases with 112,759 recoveries and 2,681 fatalities.

On August 10, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año admitted the extreme difficult challenge of conducting the COVID-19 contact tracing process with the data privacy law in place.

Citing an example, Año noted that a number of COVID-19 patients confined in hospitals only provide their names but not their addresses and telephone numbers.

The DILG chief said they are now coordinating with hospitals to assist them in gathering vital information  essential for contact tracing of COVID-19 patients.

Año explained that number codes may be used to identify the COVID-19 patients but pertinent details like the address, what time and what transportation one took to go to a particular place must be provided.