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DILG to LGUs: Increase number of contact-tracing teams in your areas

The Department of the Interior and Local Government on Thursday tasked local government units, the Philippine National Police, and the Bureau of Fire Protection to assist in the conduct of the expanded coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) testing in various localities.

In a press statement, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said LGUs should increase the number of contact tracing teams (CTT) who will identify individuals who had previous exposure to confirmed COVID-19 cases.

“Katuwang ng DOH (Department of Health) ang mga LGUs at ang local PNP at BFP sa pagsasagawa ng maayos, mabilis at sistematikong COVID-19 testing sa mga lokalidad,” Año said.

“Mahalaga ang papel ng CCTs para tuluyan ng bumaba ang kaso ng COVID-19 sa bansa. Nakasalalay sa kanila ang pagtukoy at pag-isolate ng mga nakasalamuha ng may sakit na COVID-19 at pagpapagamot ng mga COVID-19 positive,” he added.

He said a CTT in each LGU shall be led by the chief of police who will be assisted by the city or municipal health officer.

Its staff will include personnel from the local police; the city or municipal health office; the BFP; an officer from the city or municipal disaster risk reduction management office; a city or municipal barangay health worker; members of the barangay health emergency response team; and an officer of the barangay public safety.

Order of priority

Año reminded barangay officials that their data would be used to classify "at-risk" individuals and to prioritize contact tracing for those who were in close contact with COVID-19 patients.

Likewise, he said those who will be prioritized in the testing include COVID-19 patients, medical professionals and health workers who show severe to critical symptoms of the disease, and those who have known travel history or who have been in touch with a confirmed patient.

The next on the list were medical professionals and health care workers with mild symptoms and known exposure to a positive patient; and those patients with mild symptoms of COVID-19 who were identified as high-risk with pre-existing medical conditions and/or are members of vulnerable groups (senior citizen, a pregnant woman with co-morbidities).

Año said the third priority would include all asymptomatic medical professionals and health workers but with known exposure to a positive patient as well as all asymptomatic patients with known travel history or contact to a positive patient.

Meanwhile, the DILG chief said local chief executives must ensure the functionality of their Ligtas COVID-19 Center or community quarantine facility, noting that these sites must have a conducive environment for recovery and with adequate number of medical personnel, health equipment and medicines.

According to Año, all LGUs are required to submit a status report to the city or municipal COVID-19 Task Force which will send a regular action report to the provincial and regional task forces.

So far, the Philippines has recorded 5,453 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 353 recoveries, and 349 fatalities.  —Anna Felicia Bajo/LBG, GMA News