The Philippine government was urged to intensify its contact tracing efforts for it will be a key in preventing the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country.
Molecular biologist-priest Rev. Fr. Nicanor Austriaco underscored the need of increasing the country’s contact tracing capacity, as he noted that a person infected with the Delta variant can infect up to eight individuals.
“We must increase contact tracing capacity. The key here is contact tracing because we are going to double the number of contacts in the next surge per day,” Austriaco said in a Palace press briefing Thursday, July 22.
Likewise, the professor urged the national government to prepare hospitals and healthcare workers, and increase the supply of needed medicines and oxygen.
He also recommended to make preparations for the implementation of increased restrictions on mobility to contain the possible surge.
Austriaco suggested that local government units (LGUs) must implement localized lockdowns to immediately contain if there is a presence of the variant in their community.
Local governments were also told to prepare its contact tracers for an “intense” contact tracing of those exposed to the virus.
“I cannot emphasize that the contact tracing will be intense. In the past, one positive will give rise to maybe four, now it will give rise to maybe eight. And so the contact tracing will become intense as the Delta spreads,” he said.
No to home quarantine
Meanwhile, Austriaco told LGUs to prepare their isolation and quarantine facilities.
“We cannot have home quarantine,” he said. “Because with a reproduction number of 8, if a single person becomes COVID positive and they go home, everyone in the house will pretty much get COVID-19 because the reproduction number is so high.”
The expert reiterated that the public must continue observing the minimum public health standards to minimize the possibility of infection, avoid crowds especially indoors, and to get vaccinated if eligible.
“We do not have to be scared. And a devastating surge does not have to happen… It will not happen if we do not lose control of the pandemic,” Austriaco said.
“If we control the pandemic well with contact tracing, testing, isolation, and with liberal use of lockdowns, if we can do this we will not lose control, we will not have people dying in our hospitals, we will not ran out of oxygen, [and] we will beat this enemy,” he added.