Galvez admits gaps in COVID-19 contact tracing, says gov't efforts improving

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 20 2020 07:38 PM | Updated as of Jul 21 2020 07:09 AM

Galvez admits gaps in COVID-19 contact tracing, says gov't efforts improving 1
Residents selected for testing gather at the Baclaran Elementary School as local authorities enforce a reasonable calibrated lockdown of 10 major streets in Barangay Baclaran, Parañaque City on May 21, 2020, in an attempt to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA-- The government is working to improve its contact- tracing efforts after discovering that there were gaps, the country's COVID-19 pandemic policy chief implementer said on Monday.

Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said adjustments to contact-tracing efforts, particularly at the local level, are being led by tracing czar Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong.

"Sa ngayon po, nagkakaroon po kami ng adjustments and recalibration. At ang ating mga mayors at ang ating mga LGUs ay natutuwa dahil kasi nagkakaroon po sila ng kaalaman na iyong kanilang mga ginagawa ay mayroon po tayong mga gaps," Galvez said in virtual briefing.

(Now, there are adjustments and recalibration. Our mayors and LGUs appreciate this because now they realize the gaps in their ways.)

Contact tracers are the ones who track down close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases, ensuring that suspect cases are isolated and tested. They are expected to do data gathering, interviews, and health assessment of contacts and health education.

To improve contact-tracing efforts, Galvez said the Philippine National Police has committed 700 police officers to help in Metro Manila.

Galvez said he was also informed by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana that soldiers can be tapped for contact tracing.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government had said the Philippines' contact-tracing capacity was at 98.2 percent as of last Friday, with around 69,000 contact tracers deployed in a bid to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

Around 5,215 contact-tracing teams nationwide are monitoring virus patients, including those who are asymptomatic, according to Interior Secretary Eduardo Año.

"Kaya po ang ating pamahalaan ay talagang maglalaan po ng pondo para sa pag-recruit at pagbibigay sa kung ano ang tamang pasuweldo sa ating mga contact tracers," Galvez said.

(Our government will really allot a budget for the recruitment and salaries of our contact tracers.)

As of Monday, the Philippines had 68,898 confirmed COVID-19 cases, of which 43,991 were active.