Task force asks LGUs told to step up contact tracing
MANILA, Philippines — The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases has tasked local government units (LGUs) to take the lead in identifying people who may have been in contact with COVID-19 patients.
IATF spokesperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles announced the move in a televised briefing on Saturday, 12 days before the end of the Luzon quarantine on April 30, in a bid to stop the spread of the disease that has already claimed 397 lives.
As of Saturday, the number of cases in the country has topped 6,000 with 209 new cases, 29 recoveries and 10 deaths.
The task of contact tracing was initially assigned to the Department of National Defense’s Office of Civil Defense but the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) will now be the lead implementer in coordination with LGUs.
Nograles said the DILG and the Department of Health (DOH) were directed to agree on a system of data sharing in accordance with the data privacy law.
He also said that involved agencies must come up with sector-specific recommendations.
“In materializing the aforementioned general principles, all agencies are directed to recommend sector-specific plans, strategies, and targets to the IATF,” Nograles said
The National Task Force COVID-19 was also tasked to develop operational plans while LGUs were asked to pursue regional cooperation in leading the fight against COVID-19, he said. Some local governments have implemented their own projects in the fight against COVID-19, apart from those mandated by the national government.
Marikina, for instance, has put up its own COVID-19 testing center and is now awaiting accreditation from the DOH.
Carlito Galvez Jr., the chief implementer of the national action plan against COVID-19, said there was also a move to decentralize operations to address logistics challenges amid the health crisis.
Mindanao, for instance, can produce its own resources. If these are not enough, the government deploys flights and ships to bring them what they need, he said.
“Being archipelagic is a geographic logistical challenge,” he said in an interview over the Cabinet Report Sa Teleradyo. But it also has an advantage as this helps contain the disease, he added.
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