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Less than 1% of 600 LGUs have ‘relatively good’ contact tracing system — Magalong

/ 11:37 AM July 30, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Out of the nearly 600 local government units that have submitted their diagnostic tests on their contact tracing efforts, less than one percent have been found to have a “relatively good” system of contact tracing.

This was bared by COVID-19 contact tracing czar and Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong in an interview over ABS-CBN’s Teleradyo Thursday.

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Magalong said the national government had sent online diagnostic questionnaires to around 1,900 LGUs to inquire about their contact tracing efforts. But almost one week after the questionnaires have been sent, only nearly 600 have so far submitted their responses.

Of the LGUs that already provided answers to the questionnaire, only 0.68 percent were found to have a “relatively good” system of contact tracing, according to Magalong.

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“Nakakalungkot nga na ganoon ang nangyari. They were concentrating on the number of contact tracers just to comply with it pero hindi naman properly established,” he said.

(It’s saddening that this is happening. They were concentrating on the number of contact tracers just to comply but the system is not properly established.)

Magalong said that most local government units in the country still need about three more weeks before ideal contact tracing teams that will locate close contacts of coronavirus disease patients can be established.

“Siguro sa timeline natin (Maybe in our timeline), it will take us about three more weeks,” Magalong said when asked when the LGUs in the country will be able to set up ideal contact tracing teams.

He also said that his team is conducting a series of meetings with local officials to train them on proper contract tracing, including increasing the benchmark for close contacts being traced for each COVID-19 patient.

On average, only around eight close contacts for each coronavirus patient are currently being traced, according to Magalong.

He said this figure should be increased.

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For instance, a benchmark of 30 to 37 identified close contacts for each patient should be observed in urban centers like Metro Manila, said the mayor.

“Can you just imagine in one day kung ang nate-trace mo lang is 8 per patient, eh ang laki na kaagad nyan. Assuming na 37, eh di 29 na kaagad ‘yung unaccounted? Kung araw-araw ‘yan na 10 cases a day or hindi lang, so ang laki ng unaccounted natin,” he added.

(Just imagine if you only trace eight contacts per patient. The backlog would be really huge. If the benchmark is 37, then you already have 29 close contacts who are unaccounted. If they will have 10 cases a day, the number of unaccounted close contacts would be high.)

He also noted that LGUs should prepare its quarantine facilities as the number of COVID-19 patients may increase in the next three weeks once the contact tracing system in the country becomes more effective.

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TAGS: Benjamin Magalong, contact tracing, coronavirus Philippines, COVID-19, Local Government Units
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