Speedy contact tracing, political will key in curbing COVID-19 spread - Baguio mayor

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 19 2020 08:31 PM

MANILA — Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong credited quick contact tracing and his own hands-on approach for his locality’s success in slowing down the spread of COVID-19.

Based on Department of Health data, the northern Luzon city has logged 30 confirmed COVID-19 cases since the outbreak started. Majority or 28 have already recovered and one died. There is currently only one active case — a patient with mild symptoms.

According to the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group, before this last active case was reported, Baguio City had no new case from April 29 to May 12.

In a DOH televised briefing, Magalong said a key aspect of their COVID-19 response was speed in conducting contact-tracing.

“What is important sa contact tracing ay yung speed,” he said, narrating how he would ask the city’s doctors to immediately relay information about patients so that the contact-tracing teams can inform those who might also be infected.

“We cannot wait. We cannot afford to wait until tomorrow,” the former police official said, explaining that cities like Baguio that do not have enough manpower need to be quick in contact-tracing to contain the spread of the disease.

Magalong likened contact-tracing to a police investigation that requires understanding of what happened, and not just getting a list of names.

He said it would also help local government units if the local chief executive personally leads in the COVID-19 response.

Magalong said he would personally talk to patients to check on them and to convince them to reveal their identity so that their contacts would be informed of their status.

“Sometimes, political ang harang if the mayor is at the forefront. Immediately, pwede n'yang tanggalin 'yang harang na 'yan,” he said when discussing the challenges faced by LGUs in the COVID-19 fight.

(Sometimes, if the impediment is political, it can immediately be surpassed if the mayor is at the forefront.)

Magalong also credited his city’s use of technology for data collection and data analysis.

To augment the city’s health staff, he said he had also tasked policemen to accompany contact-tracing teams.