Press Release
May 2, 2020

As we transition from ECQ to GCQ
'We need an army of Covid trackers' --Sen Nancy
...says readiness in contract tracing vital to curb community infections

It may sound exaggerated, but Sen Nancy Binay today said that a battalion of trained "trackers" would be the key to curbing the spread of covid pandemic in communities.

According to Binay, since the time COVID-19 emerged in the country, it has exposed the government's handicap in managing public health particularly in the area of contact tracing.

"Habang tumatagal, numinipis ang hanay ng ating healthworkers pati na ang ating mga taong inaasahan sa barangay. The first step once ECQ is lifted is to see to it that the LGU is ready and well-equipped when it comes to tracking possible carriers who have been exposed to infected people. It is best that we come prepared and start training an army of contact tracers as we transition from ECQ to GCQ," the senator pointed out.

She added that contact tracing is an essential public health safety tool to help contain the spread of the coronavirus.

"If we can train enough volunteers from both health and non-health sectors, sila ang magiging 'army' of public health fieldworkers and barangay healthworkers trained to track down every case should the situation get worse," Binay said.

Once the stay-at-home orders are lifted, the senator added that an army of contact tracers will be needed for possible surges of infected cases, and the possible resurgence of a second wave pandemic.

"Contact tracing is a labor-intensive mission. Kaya, we need to train practically a battalion of trackers deployed in small functional teams or units. And since may available naman na covid-tracking apps, we can either provide tablets or use existing mobile phones and arm them with necessary tools to make the system work," Binay noted.

With public health guidance, Binay added that the DOH, DILG and LGUs should still take the lead in creating a special unit of trackers who will make phone calls, visit communities, interview those in contact with suspected and confirmed carriers, as well as infected people who can be asymptomatic carriers who have exposed others without knowing it.

"Kahit pa na i-downgrade sa GCQ, dapat mas maging maingat at conscious tayo na sundin ang minimum public health protocols (wearing masks, washing hands, social distancing, quarantine), and infection control measures (coughing, sneezing etiquette). We should never let our guards down and must strengthen our public health system's key actions like testing capacity, isolation facilities, medical treatment and contact tracing readiness," Binay said.

Currently, the IATF has tasked the DILG-PNP to do contract tracing since police are trained in surveillance and information gathering. However, without enough public health background and because of their unfamiliarity of the people and urban terrain, the DILG admitted having a hard time tracking down suspected covid carriers who may have already infected other people.

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