QC mayor: Incomplete patient data from DOH slows down contact-tracing


Posted at Aug 06 2020 01:25 PM

MANILA - Incomplete data from the Department of Health (DOH) on patients with the novel coronavirus slows down the search for those who had close contact with them and could further spread the disease, Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte said Thurday. 

"Half of all cases reported" came with missing information, such as the addresses and contact numbers of patients, said the mayor of Metro Manila's most populous city. 

This forces city authorities to coordinate with disease reporting units, laboratories, and hospitals “to request information that should have been diligently filled up in the first place,” Belmonte said. 

The health department also failed to provide information about which hospitals or laboratories conducted the swab tests of 35 positive cases, said the mayor. 

“The lack of available information from the outset.. delays contact tracing by days,” she said. 

Quezon City is among cities with the highest number of COVID-19 infection.

Belmonte, in an Aug. 4 letter, asked Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to “set the vision and direction in improving data quality for rapid contact tracing.”
The health department can provide financial or non-financial incentives for quality data and impose penalties or sanctions for incomplete information, said the mayor. 

“As we increase our investment in logistics and human resources for contact tracing, we hope that LGU efforts are matched by leadership and action from DOH in improving data quality,” she said.
The Quezon City government recently procured 15 vehicles to add to the 15 already being used, and put together an army of 700 contact tracers, to find potential COVID-19 patients. 

A manpower shortage and public distrust pose challenges to contact-tracing efforts, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire earlier said.

Coronavirus infections surged past 100,000 cases this weekend, prompting the return of Metro Manila and 4 surrounding provinces to stricter lockdown measures until Aug. 18.