LGUs urged to boost contact tracing after new COVID-19 variant detected in PH

Angela Coloma, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 16 2021 01:44 PM

City hall disaster risk reduction office personnel view closed circuit TV screens as they monitor implementation of quarantine protocols in the major thoroughfares in Navotas City on May 23, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA— The country’s contact tracing czar has urged local government units to strengthen their tracing efforts after the country recorded its first case of the new and more transmissible coronavirus disease (COVID-19) variant. 

Baguio City Mayor and contact tracing czar Benjamin Magalong Jr. said LGUs should not rely on the national government in carrying out contact tracing efforts. 

“They should not simply rely on the Departemnt of Health, and the PNP. Dapat local governments should take the leap in contact tracing,” Magalong said in a public press briefing Saturday. 

The Department of Health earlier reported that a 29-year-old male resident of Barangay Kamuning, Quezon City who returned from Dubai is the country’s first case of the COVID-19 variant.

The patient had flown back home with his girlfriend and were both immediately quarantined. He is currently asymptomatic and is completing treatment but no longer needed to be sent to hospital. 

The girlfriend tested negative for the virus and is currently finishing quarantine. 

Around 143 close contacts or passengers who were on the same flight have been contacted by authorities, with 13 others left to be accounted for. 

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In a separate interview, Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte said 8 of the close contacts live in Quezon City. Among them, only one has yet to be reached as the said contact declared a wrong address and contact number. 

Magalong urged authorities to file cases against the said resident. 

"Dapat file-an siya ng kaso. Republic Act 11332. Mayroong nakasaad do’n na dapat, dapat you have to be very truthful sa mga data na binibigay mo… Kailangan file-an siya ng kaso kasi sanction ‘yon eh," Magalong said, referring to the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act.

(The passenger should face charges. In Republic Act 11332, it says that you have to be truthful with the data you submit. He should face charges. That’s a sanction.)