MANILA (UPDATE) - Only four out of 17 Metro Manila cities have been compliant with contact tracing standards set by the government, an official of the Department of the Interior and Local Government said Wednesday, as Metro Manila experienced a rise in COVID-19 cases.
Only Manila, Pateros, San Juan, and Taguig have complied with the standard of having 1 contact tracer per 800 people set by the government, DILG Undersecretary Epimaco Densing said.
Metro Manila has been epicenter of the pandemic that has been going on for a year now.
"Kailangan ko lang siguro i-open. Sa NCR, nadiskubre ko po na sa 17 siyudad dito sa Metro Manila, eh 4 lang po ang nakakapag-comply sa standards sa contact tracing," he said.
(I just want to put this out in the open. In NCR, I discovered that out of 17 cities in Metro Manila, only 4 have complied with contact tracing standards.)
Densing added they have re-hired only 30 percent of the 50,000 contact tracers they got for pandemic response.
With that, he reminded LGUs to comply with health standards.
"So pinakikiusapan ko po, napakaimportante ng contact tracing sa paglaban natin sa COVID-19. I hope the other cities including those outside of Metro Manila ma-meet po nila 'yung standard na 1 is to 800 sa contact tracing,” Densing said.
(This is why I am reminding people that contact tracing is important in battling COVID-19. I hope other cities, including those outside Metro Manila, can meet the standard 1 is to 800 people in contact tracing.)
The Department of Health previously said that contact tracing is insufficient in Metro Manila.
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority previously said they were adding contact tracers as cases continue to rise in the area.
The World Health Organization also stressed the need to strengthen contact tracing instead of enforcing lockdowns to prevent COVID-19 spread.
The Philippines has tallied 600,428 cases as of Tuesday, based on the latest DOH count. March 13, 2021 will mark a year since the Philippines was placed under community quarantine to curb the spread of the virus.
It also launched its inoculation drive more than a week ago, lagging behind its Asian neighbors who have started vaccinating their population as early as January 2021.
Just over half of LGUs have ordinances on health standards
Densing also said just over half of some 1,500 LGUs in the country have ordinances on public health standards, calling on those still without local laws to pass one as cases continue to rise.
Densing said only 878 out of more than 1,500 local government units have followed a directive the DILG issued on July 2020, mandating that they craft ordinances including sanctions for people non-compliant with minimum public health standards.
He said this may have been overlooked by LGUs.
All cities in Metro Manila, where a surge has been seen, have complied with DILG’s order. However, he has noted a more "lax" approach in following the protocols.
"Ako lumalabas talaga ako at personal kong nakita sa Pasay, may area diyan nakita ko mga 3 weeks ago nagchichismisan sa tindahan, nagtatawanan [pero] walang face mask. Talsik-laway. Dito sa Taguig, ang mga tao sa BGC nagpi-picnic walang takip sa mukha, ganun. So naging lax na po tayo," said Densing.
(I personally saw 3 weeks ago people chatting, laughing together while without face masks. Here in Taguig, I see people doing picnics without face covering. So we’re becoming lax.)
Densing already ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) to strengthen the enforcement of minimum public health standards.
Government officials, including President Rodrigo Duterte previously attributed the rise in COVID-19 cases to the public's noncompliance with health standards meant to curb the virus spread.