Philippines short of 94K contact tracers, DOH says
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is short of about 94,000 COVID-19 contact tracers to achieve the ideal ratio of one contact tracer per 800 people, the Department of Health (DOH) said Tuesday.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire admitted there are issues hounding the country’s contact tracing efforts, particularly in health human resources.
Contact tracers are health workers who track down the close contacts of people who have been tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2—the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
“Not to say that we are slow [in contact tracing] but there are really issues in our health system and especially with regard to the identification of people who can do contact tracing,” Vergeire said in an interview over ABS-CBN News Channel.
“They have set this benchmark when you have one contact person per 800 persons in the country. So if we are going to look at that and considering what we have for now as to the number of contact tracers, we are short of about 94,000 if we are going to follow that benchmark,” she added.
Earlier, Dr. Socorro Escalante, World Health Organization (WHO) acting representative, said the Department of Health’s (DOH) contact tracing efforts to halt the further spread of the new coronavirus in the country is slow.
However, Vergeire noted that the government is now trying to address the lack of contact tracers through emergency hiring.
The DOH official earlier said the Philippines has around 38,000 contact tracers.
But the government’s economic team has proposed to hire 136,000 contact tracers.
Hiring contact tracers “en masse” is one of the actions that Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez recommended to President Rodrigo Duterte to take in a phased easing of lockdown measures to revive the devastated economy.
To date, there are 14,319 confirmed COVID-19 cases nationwide with 3,323 recoveries and 873 deaths.
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