Gov't loses 21K contact tracers in a week — Lorenzana

Published October 26, 2021, 1:48 PM

by Martin Sadongdong

Around 21,000 contact tracers lost their jobs in one week after their contracts were not renewed by the government, a task force official leading the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic response bared Monday night, Oct. 25.

File photos show contact tracers finding suspected COVID-19 cases in Pateros. (Photo: DILG Pateros)

National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 chairman and Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said there are 126,984 employed contact tracers at present.

The employement of contact tracers this week slightly improved after the government recorded a massive loss last week when it registered a workforce of just 115,611 from a high of 136,937 contact tracers.

This translates to 21,326 contact tracers who were forced to stop thier job of finding suspected virus-carriers due to the expiration of their contracts.

“Pareho lang po ‘yong ating contact tracers hindi naman dumami. Sa halip nga, mayroong — kumaunti pa ito ng 20,000 noong nakaraang linggo dahil hindi na na-renew ‘yong kanilang contract ([The number of] our contact tracers remained the same, they did not increase. In fact, we lost 20,000 of them last week because their contracts were not renewed),” Lorenzana told President Duterte during the ‘Talk to the People’ public address.

Despite the situation, the contact tracers were able to find 48,955 close contacts of COVID-19 patients this week.

Of the number, 6,048 cases were confirmed to be positive for the virus and immediately isolated while 17,043 were considered as suspected cases as they await the results of their tests. The rest turned out to be negative from COVID-19.

Last week, some contact tracers hired by the government raised concerns about the alleged delay in the issuance of their salaries.

However, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) was quick to dispute the allegations. The DILG and the Department of Labor and Employement (DOLE) lead the hiring of contact tracers as part of the national government’s “whole of nation” approach against the pandemic.

DILG spokesperson Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said the department is seeking P6.6 billion for the hiring of its contact tracers in 2022.