Philippines to hire 14,000 additional contact tracers for Metro Manila


Posted at Apr 11 2021 10:15 AM

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MANILA - The labor department will hire 14,000 additional contact tracers for Metro Manila, an official said Sunday.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III has agreed to increase the number of contact tracers from 5,000 to augment the capital region's forces in a meeting with Manila mayors Saturday, said Benhur Abalos, chairman of Metropolitan Manila Development Authority.

"This is worth P213 million para dito sa Kalakhang Maynila (for Metro Manila). This is for a period of 3 months, very intensified na talaga po (our contact tracing has intensified)," he told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.

The agency earlier said it would "hopefully" start next week the hiring of contact-tracers, who will get paid at the rate of the minimum wage in their regions.

Applicants must have basic knowledge in using a phone and the internet. Online training for contact-tracers will be held over one or two days, during which they will start receiving their pay, said Ma. Karina Perida-Trayvilla, head of the department's Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns. 

Those who are interested in the job opportunity should go to the labor department's nearest satellite offices or call the DOLE Hotline 1349 or telephone number 8404-3336, she added. 

The Philippines' contact-tracing strategy for COVID-19 remains far from ideal, Malacañang said in March, a year since the World Health Organization declared the respiratory disease a pandemic. 

Aileen Espina, national director of the Philippine Academy of Family Physicians, likened the different contact tracing applications to an "archipelago" that do not interact or share information with each other.

"Sana magkaroon ng tulay (I hope there can be a bridge)... a way to bridge these islands of information systems," she said.

"The earlier we’re able to identify 'yung mga kaso at ma-isolate sila, ma-identify sino ang close contact nila at ma-quarantine natin kaagad, (we) are able to cut the chain of transmission.)

The Philippines on Saturday logged 12,674 more COVID-19 cases, its second-highest single day tally so far, bringing the total to 853,209.

It is forecast to reach 1 million virus cases by the end of the month, according to independent research group OCTA which has recommended the extension of strict lockdown in NCR Plus bubble to further slow down the growth of infections.