Malacañang said that the contact tracing application StaySafe PH having “almost no impact” was a cause for concern, citing the importance of automation in the country’s fight against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said that the application supposedly being used for contact tracing has limitations and has “almost no impact.”
In his press briefing, Roque said the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) should explain why Duque made such a conclusion about the StaySafe application.
“We will ask the DICT to explain kung bakit ganyan ang naging conclusion ni Secretary Duque (why Secretary Duque made that conclusion),” he said.
“In any event, that’s a cause for concern for the Palace because alam nating importanteng-importante ang automation para sa contact tracing (we know that automating our contact tracing efforts is very important),” he added.
This was not the first time that the effectiveness of the said application was questioned. Last month, Baguio City Mayor and Contact Tracing Czar Benjamin Magalong said they were now encouraging local government units (LGUs) to have their own contact tracing mechanism due to some “failure” with StaySafe.
However, they would still have to integrate it into the new data warehouse platform Tanod Kontra-COVID (TKC).
Despite this assessment of the contact tracing czar, Roque said LGUs should still use the StaySafe app while the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has not yet issued a new resolution.
The StaySafe app is the government’s digital contact tracing application of choice and was made mandatory for adoption and use in all national government agencies and instrumentalities as well as LGUs.
It was seen to augment the 1:36 tracer-to-close contact ratio set by Magalong and to expand it to nationwide coverage.
Malacañang has pushed for the full implementation of the StaySafe app after admitting that contact tracing has been the weakest point in the country’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.