Go urges five-month contract extension for 15,000 contact tracers

Published August 4, 2021, 1:14 PM

by Mario Casayuran

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go on Wednesday, August 4 requested President Rodrigo Duterte and concerned agencies to continue to engage and hire 15,000 contact tracers from this month to December 31.

Go, chairman of the Senate health committee, highlighted the critical role of contact tracers in the government’s COVID-19 pandemic response operations as authorities prepare for an Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) lockdown in the national capital region (NCR) from August 6 to 20.

“Ang pagiging contact tracer ay isang mainam na paraan para makatulong sa inyong mga kababayan (Being a contact tracer is a good way of helping our countrymen). At the same time, makakapagbigay pa tayo ng trabaho para sa mga Pilipinong nawalan ng kabuhayan (At the same time, we give livelihood to the jobless),’’ he explained.

Given the threat of the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19, Go emphasized the important role contact tracers play in managing the pandemic and not squandering the chance for early preparation.

“Contact tracing and case investigation are important parts of our COVID-19 response,” he stressed.

A major pillar of the COVID-19 response, according to Go, is the detection of suspect, probable, and confirmed COVID-19 instance.

“Contact tracing enables the quarantine and treatment of those who may have been infected with the virus, interrupting the infection’s chain of transmission,’’ Go explained.

Notably, contact tracers are the initial point of contact for COVID-19 cases. They conduct case interviews and risk assessments, monitor close and general contacts daily for at least 14 days, and keep accurate records of those contacts.

The anticipated cost of hiring 15,000 contact tracers through December 31 amounts to almost P1.7 billion. With the hiring of the requested contact tracers, the government intends to meet the Department of Health’s (DOH’s) 1:10 contact tracer-to-individual ratio.

To combat the spread of the Delta variant, the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has agreed to put the NCR on heightened GCQ until August 5, 2021, and ECQ from August 6 to August 20.

Aside from the reinstatement of ECQ and border controls, Go has previously called for the expansion of healthcare facilities, a faster vaccination deployment, and increased contact tracing and genome sequencing.