Baguio cops join contact tracing efforts to speed up COVID-19 containment
BAGUIO CITY, Philippines — Police investigators have now joined contact tracing efforts to track down Baguio residents who may have interacted with patients suspected to have been infected with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Ten police officers have joined the epidemiology team led by Dr. Donnabel Tubera-Panes of the Baguio City Health Office (CHO), and would be called in once contact tracing has identified potential PUI, said Police Col. Allen Rae Co, city police director, on Thursday (Mar. 26).
Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong last week said trained investigators are able to check details which medical workers may have overlooked.
Magalong integrated the policemen into the CHO surveillance teams after directing them to trace families, friends and neighbors of patients under investigation (PUI) who have a high probability of infection but whose test results have not yet been released due to a massive backlog at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine.
One of the gaps in the current COVID protocol is the delay in contact tracing operations until a confirmation has been established, he earlier said. “There is a good chance of transmission,” Magalong said when PUI contacts continue to move around without being medically examined.
Panes was initially tasked to determine who had contact with a young government employee from Parañaque City who was confirmed to have contracted the virus after attending her agency’s board meeting at a Baguio hotel.
In many cases, the PUI’s recollection as to who they may have encountered is crucial for tracing individuals, Co said.
“It is one thing to find out from the patient where he went, and who he met. But of course he will not remember everybody he met, which is when the investigator comes in. Some interviews can be done remotely through the telephone, but some cases require good old legwork from the police investigators,” the police chief said.
Data collected by the epidemiology teams would be collated in a digital map being developed by the city’s information technology division.
The policemen would be provided the same protective gear used by health workers as they interact with the PUI, Co said.
Baguio currently has two confirmed COVID patients, one of them a 61-year-old woman who travelled back from Italy.
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