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DILG asks Congress to allot P5B from Bayanihan 2 fund for hiring of contact tracers

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Thursday appealed to Congress to allocate P5 billion out of the P162 billion fund under the proposed Bayanihan to Recover As One Act or Bayanihan 2 for the hiring and training of contact tracers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a letter to Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año proposed the hiring and training of at least 50,000 contact tracers starting September.

He said this is to meet the recommended ratio of the World Health Organization of one contact tracer for every 800 people.

“With a projected population of 108 million this year, we need 50,000 more contact tracers to attain the ideal number of 135,000 contact tracers to pursue quick and credible tracing of close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 patients,” he said in a press statement.

On Monday, the House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading the proposed Bayanihan 2 law outlining P162 billion for interventions against COVID-19 pandemic.

Last July 28, the Senate passed its version of the measure which outlined P140 billion worth of economic recovery interventions, which is lesser than the House's proposal.

At present, Año said there are over 7,000 contact tracing teams with a total of more than 85,000 contact tracers.

He said the current number of contact tracers cannot meet the recommendations of contact tracing czar and Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong of a 1:37 patient to close contacts ratio in order to cut the transmission of the disease.

Meanwhile, DILG spokesperson Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said of the 50,000 contact tracers to be hired, 20,000 will be deployed in Luzon, 15,000 in Visayas, and another 15,000 in Mindanao.

"If need be, more contract tracers will be assigned to Metro Manila and other hot spots,” Malaya said, adding that the hiring of contact tracers will be facilitated by the DILG regional offices.

Malaya also said the agency is proposing for the amendment of Section 3 (b) of the bill to ensure that contact tracing efforts in the community will be “subject to the rules and regulations to be issued by the DILG which shall include recruitment, training, compensation, among others, of contact tracers.”—AOL, GMA News