Quezon City Rep. Precious Hipolito Castelo has filed a bill that seeks to create contract tracing centers in COVID-19 high-risk areas.
Citing the World Health Organization (WHO), the vice chairperson of the House Committee on Metro Manila Development said while the country has improved its testing capability and has expanded its treatment capacity, there is big room for improvement when it comes to its contract tracing efforts.
“There must be a system that shall be efficient in monitoring the health status of those infected with COVID-19 as well as the traced contracts. If contract tracing efforts will be done quickly and effectively, the impact of the pandemic will dramatically decrease,” Castelo said in filing House Bill No. 7538 or the proposed COVID-19 Contract Tracing Centers Act of 2020.
She said by establishing the CTCs in high risk areas, the government will be able to protect the interest and promote the well-being and medical needs of the Filipino people, as it seeks "to properly isolate and treat people whenever necessary."
HB No. 7538 provides that the contract tracing centers shall be established in COVID-19 high-risk areas.
The bill tasks the Department of Health (DoH) to determine the high-risk areas. The determination of COVID-19 high risk areas shall be based on a standard metric, which shall be set by the DoH, it provides.
Under Castelo’s measure, the local government units, through their local chief executives, may recommend that a barangay, city, municipality, or province be declared as a high-risk area.
“CTCs shall ensure that all individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 shall be interviewed for as many contacts as possible, with priority to close contacts. It shall also ensure that all traced contacts are monitored for symptoms, and where necessary, tested and treated,” according to HB 7538.
The bill provides that the CTC shall be headed by an Executive Director, who shall be a medical doctor.
HB 7538 directs the DoH Secretary to immediately incorporate in the Department’s programs the operationalization of the CTCs, the funding of which shall be included in the annual General Appropriations Act.
The DoH shall promulgate the implementing rules and regulations of the proposed Act within 30 days from its effectivity, the bill provides.