Local government units (LGUs) must establish contact tracing teams in every barangay (village) as part of response efforts to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said on Tuesday.
“Every LGU must have contact tracing teams composed of the local epidemiological surveillance unit, police, health workers, BFP (Bureau of Fire Protection), BJMP (Bureau of Jail Management and Penology and volunteers. The most ideal is for every barangay to have one and it varies depending on the population of the barangay,” Año said in Filipino in a press briefing in Taguig City.
The measure is part of more proactive localized lockdowns in Metro Manila to address the health crisis.
To date, DILG said there are 54,042 contact tracers composing 3,397 teams nationwide.
Last month, Año said the agency has proposed to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to hire and train contact tracers as part of the government’s efforts to effectively manage the Covid-19 pandemic.
The DILG is the lead agency in contact tracing pursuant to IATF Resolution No. 25.
On April 24, the DILG issued Memorandum Circular 2020-077 directing local government units to establish their own task forces against Covid-19, including contact tracing teams.
“The point is may mga lugar din sa Pilipinas na zero pa rin ang (Covid-19) cases pero malalayong lugar so meron din silang mga best practices doon (There are areas in the Philippines with zero Covid-19 cases) but these are in far-flung areas and so they also have best practices there),’’ Año said.
He said the best practices of the localities are passed on to the other LGUs as the need arises.
He cited the Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong whose expertise in contact tracing is being replicated in Cebu City.
He noted that Magalong is currently handling the contact tracing process in Cebu City, which is under an enhanced community quarantine due to a surge of Covid-19 cases.
“We learn from each other, ginagamit ang (we use) technology, ginagamit ang (we use) investigative skills ng rating (of our) PNP at ang (and the) epidemiological expertise ng ating mga (of our) health workers at doctors. Meron na tayong protocol na ginagamit (we have a protocol that we use) and we are actually applying this in Cebu City,” he noted. (PNA)