Duque warns ‘heads will roll’ over slow contact tracing for nCoV
MANILA, Philippines — “Heads will roll” in the Department of Health (DOH) over the slow contact tracing of the co-passengers of the two Chinese nationals found positive for the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), its secretary warned Tuesday.
Emerging from the Senate health committee hearing on the government’s response to the 2019-nCoV outbreak, Duque told reporters that the slow contact tracing would be investigated.
“Heads will roll, of course,” Duque said when asked what sanction would be imposed on liable officials.
“They’re saying, they’re telling me, my people, that PAL (Philippine Airlines) and Cebu Pacific did not want to give the details and we heard that they (airlines) said they would give the details, so talagang somebody’s head is going to roll, wala tayong (we have no) choice,” he added.
“I’m going to have this investigated because ang sabi sa akin ng (I was told by the) epidemiology director ko is nag-invoke daw ng data privacy act (yung mga airlines),” he further said. (The airlines invoked the data privacy act.)
Duque, during the hearing, cited information relayed to him by epidemiology officials who said airlines were not sharing the contact details of passengers who shared flights with the two 2019-nCoV patients.
But PAL Vice President for Security Ronnie Ordoyo told senators that PAL and Cebu Pacific have already cooperated with the epidemiology bureau regarding the contact tracing.
“We have given them the list as required,” Ordoy said.
Duque said he would ask the epidemiology bureau to look into the low number of contacted passengers.
“In fact, last week, I said ‘Where are the numbers?’ I was looking for the numbers of people to be contact traced. I gave a specific order, it’s as if I was the epidemiologist and I’m not. I told them ‘You give me a projection of the number of people that you will contact trace then you tell me by Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday what percent of the total target for contact tracing have you accomplished’,” Duque went on.
The health chief, meanwhile, defended the department when it was slammed by senators for its supposed “failure of leadership.”
“The epidemiology bureau, I have always assumed that they already have the competence, they already know what they’re doing, they are familiar with the protocols. t is not right for the Secretary of Health to go into those operational details,” he said.
Duque denied that it was a “failure of leadership,” saying it was “just a question of incompetence on the part of those who form part of the orchestra.”
“The Secretary of Health orchestrates everyone. It’s like when you orchestrate an ensemble, I’m not going to teach somebody to play the violin, I already expect that he knows how to play the violin as the orchestrator,” he said.
“We need to assess them for their competencies for that particular job because for every particular job, siyempre, kailangan may certain knowledge skills and behavior,” he added.