Home quarantine, lack of LGU knowledge on contact tracing and protocols caused COVID-19 transmission in communities -- Galvez

National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 Chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. has bared that the practice of home quarantine and the lack of knowledge of local government units (LGUS) on contact tracing are the leading causes of community transmission of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country.

Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr., chief implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) on COVID-19 (NTF AGAINST COVID-19 / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

In a press briefing on Thursday night, Galvez said the practice of home quarantine for asymptomatic and mild patients remains one of the primary contributing factors in the rapid spread of the virus in Metro Manila, Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon or Region IV-A), Central Visayas (Region VII), Iligan City, and Bacolod, among other areas with high number of infections.

"Naninindigan po tayo sa ating paniniwalang hindi makakabuti ang home quarantine sa karamihan ng mga pasyente, especially for mild or asymptomatic cases (We maintain that home quarantine is not good for most of the patients, especially for mild or asymptomatic patients)," he said.

"The longer a COVID-19 patient stays in his/her home, the greater the chances that he or she will infect others," he added.

Galvez also said that the lack of knowledge of local government units (LGUs) in the end-to-end system of contact tracing, and lack of quarantine facilities are also factors in the rapid spread of the virus.

The observations were noted by Galvez from the feedback of local chief executives after he visited areas around the country where cases of infection remain high.

He assured that the problems are already being addressed by the NTF by increasing the country's testing capacity for early detection of cases, building more isolation facilities, intensifying contact tracing, and capacitating hospitals for the treatment of patients.

Galvez said the NTF has accomplished its target of conducting 32,000 daily tests by the end of August.

He said on August 27, a total of 41,934 tests were conducted in one day.

The Department of Health said a total of 2,539, 354 individuals have already been tested as of Thursday. The government aims to test 10 million Filipinos by 2021.

Tracing czar and Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong has also been conducting webinars for local chief executives to teach them how to conduct syndromic surveillance for faster and efficient contact tracing.

As for the building of isolation centers and strengthening of hospital capacities, Galvez said a total of 10,599 Ligtas-COVID centers with 164,256 beds have been built around the country.

Under Oplan Kalinga, 19 mega temporary treatment and management facilities with 3,031 beds were also established. Currently, the said facilities have an occupancy rate of 67 percent.

Aside from this, 22 hotels were also converted into temporary isolation facilities. These facilities have an occupancy rate of 79 percent.

Galvez said more treatment and isolation facilities are being built to cater to more patients including Nayong Pilipino in Manila, Calamba Regional Office and Alonte Center in Calamba, East Avenue Medical Center - Center for Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases (CERID), Rizal Medical Center, Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital Sanitarium, UP-Philippine General Hospital, Quirino Memorial Medical Center, Lung Center of the Philippines, Amang Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center, Quezon Institute, Batangas Medical Center, and National Kidney Transplant Institute (NKTI).

He said the NTF and Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) have been visiting LGUs nationwide "to assess the situation and determine the best practices so we can better respond to the pandemic."