Metro Manila’s contact tracing efforts improved, albeit only slightly, during the two-week implementation of the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ), a government official said Tuesday.
According to Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, the government on the average traced five close contacts of each COVID-19 patient in the National Capital Region (NCR) over the MECQ.
It traced only three close contacts before MECQ took effect on August 4 in NCR, Cavite, Laguna, Bulacan, and Rizal.
“Kung tatanungin ninyo ako kung masaya ba tayo sa figure na ito, talaga hong kulang na kulang pa,” Magalong, the government’s tracing czar, said in a televised Palace briefing.
CALABARZON’s contact tracing ratio, meanwhile, worsened from 1:5 on August 3 to 1:4.
Tracers in MIMAROPA and Cordillera Administrative Region were able to locate 27 and 22 close contacts, respectively, of a COVID-19 case during the two-week period.
Magalong said the ideal ratio is around 1:30 to 1:37.
The former police official attributed the poor contact tracing efforts to lack of active involvement of the local chief executives, funds to support tracing operations, and trained personnel.
He also said local government units (LGUs) have been overwhelmed by the large number of daily cases and that LGUs have given more priority to other measures to mitigate the impact of the pandemic such as relief operations.
Contact tracing teams were also not incentivized for their work, Magalong said.
“Sa kanila iyong contact tracing, sila pa iyong swabbers, sa kanila pa iyong sasakyan, sa kanila pa iyong gasolina. Kaya kung minsan ay nawawalan na sila ng ganang magtrabaho,” Magalong said.
The mayor also lamented the failure of some LGUs to appreciate the importance of contact tracing.
Reacting to Magalong’s report, Philippine College of Physician president Dr. Mario Panaligan said he hoped that the government would boost its contact tracing efforts.
“Tandaan natin marami pa rin ang mga asymptomatic, na hindi natin malalaman na magkakaroon ng sintomas at kakalat nang kakalat ang sakit na ito kung hindi natin naagapan ito,” he said.
Metro Manila, Cavite, Laguna, Bulacan, and Rizal will be under less stringent general community quarantine from August 19 to 31.
Other areas placed under GCQ were Nueva Ecija, Batangas, Quezon, Iloilo City, Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu City, Mandaue City, Talisay City, and the municipalities of Minglanilla and Consolacion in Cebu province.
The rest of the country will be under modified general community quarantine. -NB, GMA News