MANILA – Local government units need to enhance their contact tracing efforts by boosting the capacity of personnel assigned to do the job, and employ analysts and technical support to make the system work more efficiently, the country’s contact tracing czar said Thursday.
According to Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, only less than 1 percent of 600 LGUs that responded to an online diagnostic questionnaire sent to 1,900 LGUs were found to have good contact tracing system.
"Based on the 600 response and yung data na na-gather namin, around .68 lang po talaga ang may maayos na contact tracing," Magalong said in an interview on ABS-CBN TeleRadyo.
(Based on the 600 responses and date we gathered, only around .68 have good contact tracing.)
Magalong said LGUs focused on the number of contact tracers just to comply, even though they are not properly trained.
He said among the LGUs, San Juan City has the "potential" as it showed good contact tracing performance based on their diagnostic.
“Kaya lang, wala silang team of analyst. Wala silang ginagamit na analytic tools. It’s just a matter of enhancing them, capacitating them further sa ibang skills at technology para lalong mas gumanda,” said the retired police official.
(But they don't have a team of analysts. They don't use analytic tools.)
Magalong, whose city has been hailed for its efficient contact-tracing during the COVID-19 pandemic, said they want to change the current process which focuses only on the conduct of interviews.
“Kailangang i-analyze ang data, kaya naglagay tayo ng mga analyst, naglagay tayo ng technical support. Kailangang ng data encoder para matapos yung ating interviewers, yung contact tracers na tinatawag natin. Kailangang i-capacitate. Dapat pag-aralan din nila yung cognitive interviewing skill,” he said.
(We need to analyze the data, that’s why we have analysts, we included technical support. Data encoders are needed to finish the job of interviewers, our so-called contact tracers. They need to be capacitated. They need to learn cognitive interviewing skills.)
Magalong said they recently gave trainings to Metro Manila LGUs and separate webinars to other local chief executives to show the importance of having a benchmark in contact tracing.
He noted that on average, around 8 contacts are being traced per COVID-19 positive patient.
“Ang benchmark natin na inilagay for urban centers like Metro Manila, dapat nandoon tayo sa range ng 30 to 37 ang close contact natin na nade-determine,” said Magalong.
(Our benchmark for urban centers like Metro Manila is within the range of 30 to 37 close contacts.)
Magalong said it may take 3 more weeks to help LGUs put up an effective contact tracing system.
Contact tracers are composed of one health worker and one law enforcement officer. The number of teams employed would depend on the number of COVID-19 cases in that area, he said.