Contact tracing, surveillance system in Metro Manila insufficient— DOH

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 17 2021 03:32 PM | Updated as of Feb 17 2021 03:48 PM

Video courtesy of PTV

MANILA — There is still room for improvement in terms of contact tracing and surveillance of COVID-19 cases among local government units in Metro Manila, the Department of Health said Wednesday, as quarantine restrictions eased amid the continuing rise in infections.

Asked if the LGUs in Metro Manila are able to meet gatekeeping measures that would safely allow relaxed quarantine restrictions, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said these are still wanting. 

“Here in Metro Manila we can see itong ating mga cities and lone municipalities ay medyo may kakulangan pa po especially with contact tracing system and the surveillance systems,” she said at a briefing on state TV.

(Here in Metro Manila we can see that our cities and lone municipalities are still deficient when it comes to their contact tracing system and surveillance systems.)

Vergeire said they are in constant communication with the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the Metro Manila Mayors to guide them in their COVID-19 response.

“So the capacity will be there and eventually makakapagbukas tayo (we can further open the economy),” she said.

Metro Manila, the nation's economic capital and seat of government, remains to be the epicenter of the COVID-19 epidemic in the country, with the DOH observing rising coronavirus infections in 8 cities even as national figures have begun to plateau. 

Vergeire's remarks followed National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) acting Secretary Karl Chua's statement that the country should further reopen its economy to address hunger and job losses.

Vergeire explained that there are parameters in place to check if an area can shift to a lower quarantine classification. Metro Manila is currently under general community quarantine.

She said besides the parameters, it is also important to check the capacity of the local government unit to isolate, quarantine, test, and manage COVID-19 cases.

The health official explained that this is necessary because they rely on local government units to implement localized lockdowns, which would enable other sectors of the economy to re-open.

The local government is also responsible for preventing and controlling COVID-19 transmission in their areas, she said.