80K contact tracers needed

Eduardo Año

THE country is in need of more than 80,000 contact tracers as part of the government’s continuing efforts to defeat the deadly COVID-19 disease.

Secretary Eduardo Ano of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), emphasized the importance of hiring and training contact tracers amid the fact that there is still no vaccine or cure against the dreaded virus.

Ano said that a total of 82,537 tracers will form part of the contact tracing teams (CTTs) of local government units (LGUs) across the country who shall take charge of tracking down the close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 patients.

“Given that there is still no vaccine or cure to COVID-19, the government needs to train and hire contact tracers who will break the chains of transmission of COVID-19 by identifying those who may have been exposed to the virus and monitoring them daily for 14 days,” he said.

So far, the government’s contact tracing activities is on the right track, he said.   

According to DILG Undersecretary Bernardo Florece Jr., a total of 87,092 out of 94,534 contacts or 92,13% have already been traced as of June 15 by the local CTTs nationwide.

“It is contact tracers who advise the general contacts whether they need to immediately undergo home quarantine or be placed in isolation facilities,” Florece said.

At the same time, contact tracers are tasked to monitor both symptomatic and asymptomatic close contacts on a daily basis for 14 days from the last point of exposure, he said. 

Those who tested positive on COVID-19 either through rapid test or PCR tests are referred to hospital facilities for proper treatment.

Ano said that the DILG has already submitted the proposal to hire and train contact tracers to the Interagency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-MEID) for approval.

Once the DILG gets the green light from the IATF-MEID, Ano said that hiring will immediately start.

At present, there are 52,463 contact tracers nationwide who are part of 3,347 local contact tracing teams. 

“Per WHO, the ideal contact tracer to population ratio is 1:800, so to fully cover 108 million Filipinos, we actually need a total of 135,000 contact tracers,” he said.

The DILG is the lead agency in contact tracing pursuant to IATF Resolution No. 25.  On April 24, 2020, the DILG issued memorandum circular 2020-077 directing LGUs to establish LGU Task Force against COVID-19, including the Contact Tracing Team.