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DOH still sees no urgent need to hire contact tracers —Vergeire

The Department of Health still does not see an urgent need to hire contact tracers, as most local government units around the country are able to trace 80% of persons that had close encounter with COVID-19 cases, its spokesperson said on Saturday.

"Based on the performance for contact tracing, 'pag tiningnan natin, we have that kind of monitoring across all regions, makikita natin na most of the regions, they are having more than 80% of contacts that are being traced. Meron lang hong ibang region na talagang kailangan, tututukan natin at tutulungan," Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a Dobol B sa News TV interview.

"With that kind of performance, the existing number of contact tracers right now, hindi pa ho natin nakikita na talagang kailangang kailangan na na mag-hire. Although it would really help kung makakapaag-hire tayo," she pointed out.

But she noted that budget is another factor. "Hindi naman po ganoon kadami 'yung ating fund para makapag-hire ng ganito kadaming tao."

She cited data from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) that as of June 21, there were 52,794 contact tracers around the country.

Based on the World Health Organization standards, one contact tracer is needed for every 800 people in a population. Thus, the Philippines needs more than 130,000 contact tracers, Vergeire said.

The DOH spokesperson however said local government units could still fill up for the need of contact tracers.

"With the current number that we have, we still are lacking of kung ilan pa. Kaya lang ang lagi naman nating sinasabi, aside from the contact tracers that we hire, also the officials of the local government units, 'yung ating mga barangay health emergency response teams, 'yun pong ating local officials ay tumutulong naman din po sa contact tracing," Vergeire said.

"Not to hindi na kailangang mag-hire pero napupunuan po ito ng mga official ng local government," she added. —LBG, GMA News