LGUs urged to organize barangay-based contact tracing teams
MANILA, Philippines — Local government units should organize barangay-based contact tracing teams for returning overseas Filipino workers and locally stranded individuals, the Commission on Population and Development (PopCom) said on Friday.
In a statement, PopCom executive director Dr. Juan Perez III said that city and municipal mayors should prioritize joint memorandum circular 2020-01 signed by the commission, the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), the Department of Health (DOH), and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) issued on April 30.
The circular— where it prioritizes barangays where COVID-19 positive patients reside—reads that mayors can “ mobilize 200,000 barangay health workers across the country, about 10,000 population volunteers nationwide, the barangay police officers or ‘tanods,’ and other local volunteers to conduct contact tracing under the supervision of city, as well as municipal epidemiology and surveillance units”
LGUs without such units can request their provincial governors, as well as regional offices of DOH and PopCom, for technical assistance, as stated in the circular, Perez said.
The PopCom executive director added that as mandated in the circular, barangay health and population volunteers regularly do visits in their respective areas to deliver health messages and services.
“We cannot wait for the hiring of professional or untrained contact tracers. Health and population volunteers can do the job, and, as anticipated in the joint memorandum circular, with support for the hazardous work they do, and through appropriate logistical support from national agencies and local governments,” Perez said, as he urged for the LGUs’ “immediate action” on the formation of contact-tracing teams.
Those who will be suspect cases—identified as those having fever or influenza-like illness or with respiratory illness, Perez said, can be detected by contact-tracing teams under the supervision of local health officers.
After suspect cases are tested, they will now be classified as “probable cases,” and both suspect and probable cases should be placed under quarantine such until the test is returned.
As for positive cases, they will be under health monitoring, depending on the patient’s condition, Perez explained.
Neda previously said that the government was planning to hire 136,000 contact tracers to boost the country’s fight against the coronavirus, which would cost around P11.7 billion.
According to the latest DOH data, there are currently 20,626 COVID-19 cases in the Philippines, with 987 deaths and 4,330 recoveries.
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