The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Sunday said 69,098 contact tracers have already been deployed nationwide as part of the government's efforts to address the COVID-19 threat.
The contact tracers were tasked to track down and manage the close contacts of COVID-19 cases and offer diagnostic, counseling and treatment to confirmed cases, according to a DILG press release.
The contact tracers have been assigned to 5,215 contact tracing teams, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said.
“Our local contact tracing teams nationwide are working double-time to interrupt the transmission and reduce the spread of infection. This way, we can cover all the bases in the end-to-end trace-test-treat (T3) management system against this virus,” he said.
Año said with more volunteers joining the teams, the number of contact tracers continues to increase.
“We are also awaiting the approval of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to our proposal of hiring at least 50,000 contact tracers to further intensify our contact tracing efforts,” the Cabinet official said.
Contact tracing capacity
As of July 17, the Philippines' contact tracing capacity is at 98.2%, Año said. Out of 48,371 confirmed COVID-19 cases, the local contact tracing teams have traced 47,474 cases and their 161,975 close contacts, he added.
Some areas in the country have registered 100% contact tracing capability. These are MIMAROPA, Regions V, Region IX, Caraga, and BARMM, Año said.
Cebu City, meanwhile, has 99% contact tracing efficiency, DILG spokesperson and Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya. This is instrumental in reducing COVID-19 transmission in Cebu Province, he said.
Malaya said 31 contact tracing teams in Cebu City with 149 members have so far traced 7,589 cases out of 7,685, and 9,828 contacts were assessed.
Año also welcomed having Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong as contact tracing czar given the latter's experience as former head of the Philippine National Police - Central Investigation and Detection Group.
“With Mayor Benjie leading the government’s contact tracing efforts, I am sure that the country’s contact tracing capability will significantly improve,” Año said.
Experts from the University of the Philippines earlier said contact tracing is the "weakest link" in the government's COVID-19 response. —KG, GMA News