30,000 apply as contact tracers

More than 30,000 persons have applied as contact tracers as the government tries to ramp up its capability to locate possible coronavirus-infected people across the country, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said Friday.

DILG Secretary Eduardo Año (Philippine Information Agency / MANILA BULLETIN)

The national government, through the National Task Force on COVID-19, announced that it would hire 50,000 more contact tracers -- 20,000 in Luzon and 15,000 each in the Visayas and Mindanao.

“There were already more than 60 percent applicants for the job vacancies as contract tracers and there are still applicants. Our target is to start their training on Oct. 1,” said Año in an ambush interview in Taguig City.

But the acceptance of all applications, according to Año, is expected to be stopped on Friday since they still need to process the fund from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

Of the 20,000 contract tracer vacancies in Luzon, more than 9,000 of them would be deployed in Metro Manila which is considered as the epicenter of COVID-19.

He, however, said that if the initial assessment would require more contact tracers, he said they would recommend hiring more.

Año, vice chairman of the NTF on COVID-19, said their decision to hire 50,000 contact tracers is motivated by the sharp increase on COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila, Cebu, Bacolod City, Batangas, and Laguna.

The official said the hired contact tracers will be trained on locating all the suspected COVID-19 positives who made direct contact with a coronavirus-positive patient.

The data that would be used for contact tracing would be based on the daily results of the COVID-19 tests.

“If a person tests positive, he would be immediately taken to an isolation facility. It is the contract tracers who would locate his family members and all those who made direct contact with the patient,” said Año.

Once all the family members and other people are located, the same contact tracing protocol would be applied.

This is the part, according to Año, when coordination with the barangay officials are important.

And as part of the measures to prevent the spread of the virus, Año said they will no longer allow home quarantine for COVID-19 patient -- except if there is a guarantee that the house has appropriate isolation facility, and that the quarantine would be regularly monitored by the barangay health officer.

“We are discouraging home quarantine because of the cases in the past wherein the house has no appropriate quarantine facility and the COVID-19 patients were still able to go out and interact with people in their community,” said Año.