DOH lacks virus contact tracers? Remark ‘blown out of proportion’: official


Posted at Aug 13 2020 11:17 AM | Updated as of Aug 13 2020 11:31 AM

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The Department of Health said Thursday it has personnel assigned to trace people who had close contact with coronavirus patients.

The DOH, in a Facebook post on Monday, warned the public about fake contact tracers posing as department personnel.

“The public is reminded that DOH does not have a ‘contact tracing team’. If they introduce themselves as part of the LGU Contact Tracing Team, please verify basic information and ensure that they have been referred by your Barangay Health Emergency Response Team,” it said.

Some people have expressed concern over the statement, which they took to mean that the government supposedly had no team to find potential patients with COVID-19.

“It has to be understood by the public because I think this has blown out of proportion,” said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.
At the start of the pandemic, DOH’s epidemiology and disease control bureaus led contact-tracing. An inter-agency task force later directed the interior department to lead this effort, she said.

“We have strengthened the capacity of our local governments for them to create or establish these contact-tracing teams in their different localities,” Vergeire told ANC.

“That’s why when we count contact-tracing teams, we are counting the local government units, cadres, not DOH,” she added.

The health department “still has that contact-tracing teams, but we only go to, for example, there is this clustering in a specific workplace and we want to investigate and do surveillance,” she said.

ANC, Aug. 13, 2020