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Galvez traces spike of COVID-19 cases in Cebu City to inefficient home quarantine, contact tracing

The number of COVID-19 cases in Cebu City increased due to inefficient home quarantine for COVID-19 cases and poor contact tracing, National Task Force Against COVID-19 Chief Implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. said Thursday.

Galvez made the observation on the same day that Cebu City Mayor Labella said the city did well in its COVID-19 response given its recovery rate of 52%.

“Ang nakikita po natin ay yung sa implementation ng home quarantine. 1,900 [COVID-19 patients] ang nag-home quarantine, hindi natin ma-control, ma-isolate talaga iyong cases,” Galvez said during the Palace briefing.

“Mahina rin po ang contact tracing at 30%. Psychological rin po dahil sa stigma. Iyong mga may contact [sa COVID-19 patients], hindi na nagsasalita kasi malakas ang discrimination,” Galvez added.

DOH protocol allows home quarantine for mild and asymptomatic COVID-19 patients, provided that the home is equipped with a room exclusive for the use of the COVID-19 patient. This room should also be equipped with a comfort room exclusively for the use of the COVID-19 patient.

As of July 2, Cebu City has 2,699 active COVID-19 cases and 2,897 recoveries from COVID-19.

Galvez, however, agreed with Labella that the dense population of the city is also a factor.

“Cebu City is an economic hub po talaga,” Galvez said.

Cebu City is the lone area in the country under enhanced community quarantine, a protocol that bans non-essential work and mass transport. 

Contact tracers

For his part, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año reiterated the government plan of hiring 50,000 contact tracers as soon as possible to prevent the increase of COVID-19 cases.

“We will be hiring 50,000 contact tracers, and they will be deployed in heavily affected areas at doon sa mga lugar na mababa ang health capacity para mapigilan natin ang pag surge ng cases,” Año said during the same press conference.

“Contact tracing is very important kasi kung hindi magaling ang contact tracing, bulag tayong nakikipaglaban,” Año added.

Health Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire earlier said the ideal ratio of contact tracer per population is one for every 800 people or 130,000.

So far, the Philippines is short of 76,000 contact tracers to meet such an ideal ratio.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, Jr. earlier said the government will earmark P17 billion for the hiring of 50,000 contact tracers, to be provided under the proposed Bayanihan 2 bill.

Bayanihan 2, however, has yet to be passed and enacted into law. — RSJ, GMA News