Testing without tracing: PH contact tracing czar spots gaps in COVID-19 response


Posted at Aug 07 2020 11:34 AM

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MANILA – Local governments must do more than just set up testing facilities for coronavirus patients, the country's contact tracing czar said Friday, adding that aggressive contact tracing, is also important in the fight against COVID-19. 
Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong said critical to contact tracing is the active involvement of local chief executives. 

"Kasi tinututukan lang nila 'yung kanilang test facilities, kanilang quarantine at isolation at relief operations pero nakakalimutan nila na ganito ka-importante contact tracing. Ngayon lang po nila na-re-realize,” he said in an interview on ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo. 

Magalong said less than 1 percent of the 600 LGUs that responded to their online diagnostic test were found to have good contact tracing system. 

“Unfortunately, out of the 1,800 [LGUs] 614 responded at lumalabas na 0.68 [percent] lang ang may maayos na contact tracing. After 1 month--this is our 3rd week--tapusin lang namin 'yung 4th week, and then magkakaroon na naman ako ng diagnostic test ulit,” he said. 

Assuming the positivity rate for Metro Manila is 10 percent, he said the 2,500 cases in 10 days multiplied by 10 percent will result to 250 potentially infected people roaming around unaccounted for. 

As of August 6, the Philippines has logged 119,460 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 66,837 recoveries and 2,150 deaths. 

Magalong said having a comprehensive and accurate information in the database system remains a challenge to the health department. 
“Ako rin po nafu-frustrate. Ang maganda ngayon, inamin naman po ni Sec. [Francisco] Duque na may malaking pagkukulang at inaayos nila,” he said. 
Metro Manila and nearby provinces were placed again under a modified enhanced community quarantine from August 4 to 18, after medical frontliners sought help from government for a timeout following a surge in the number of infections. 

ABS-CBN TeleRadyo, August 7, 2020