‘Frustrating,’ Magalong says of patchy contact tracing efforts of some LGUs
MANILA, Philippines — Some local government units have only traced around four to five close contacts of patients confirmed to have the coronavirus disease, COVID-19 contact tracing czar and Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong said Friday.
“Ang nangyayari po sa nakita naming diagnostic, you will be frustrated, dahil ang nakita namin, parang ang lumalabas po ay 1:5, 1:4,” he said in an interview with ABS-CBN’s Teleradyo, referring to the ratio of close contacts located by local government units per COVID-19 patient.
Magalong said some of the LGUs that only provided this ratio in contact tracing told him that they only located the household members of each coronavirus patient.
This current ratio in some LGUs is far below the benchmark being recommended by Magalong.
He said that the close contacts that should be traced per each COVID-19 patient in urban areas should be from 30 to 37, and in rural areas, from 25 to 30.
“Pero ang ilalagay ko po is maximum, so 1:37, 1:30 naman po sa rural,” he also said.
(But I am recommending the maximum, so it will be 1:37 in urban areas and 1:30 in rural areas.)
This Magalong blamed to the number of unaccounted close contacts, one of the factors that could have contributed to the surge of COVID-19 cases in the country.
“I-simplify natin, 1:30 na lang. So ang laki po ng gap per patient, 25 po ang unaccounted. Kung 10 cases everyday, 250 ang unaccounted. Kung 100 cases a day, then that’s 2,500 cases unaccounted,” explained Magalong, who was appointed the country’s contact tracing czar in July.
(Let us simplify by using the 1:30 ratio as an example. The gap of unaccounted close contacts per patient is really huge, with 25 unaccounted individuals. If we have 10 cases everyday, 250 are unaccounted. If there are 100 cases a day, that’s 2,500 cases unaccounted.)
“Assuming na lang po na 10 percent po ang positivity rate, sa 2,500 na cases in 10 days, i-times 10 percent, we’re looking at 250 na potentially infected na tao na umiikot na hindi natin na-account, kaya talaga tumataas,” he added.
(Assuming that there is a 10-percent positivity rate among close contacts, if there are 2,500 unaccounted individuals in 10 days, we’re looking at 250 potentially infected persons who go about publicly and are unaccounted. That’s why the number of cases increases.)
The DOH earlier cited the easing of community quarantine guidelines and the increased testing capacity in the country as among the factors that triggered the spike in COVID-19 cases in the country.
Magalong also lamented incomplete details of some close contacts for Metro Manila patients that were encoded in the COVID KAYA Information System, a case and contact tracing reporting system for epidemiology and surveillance officers, health care providers and laboratory-based users.
He said some of the details only contain the names and not the addresses of the close contacts.
Magalong described this as a “big issue” in the system, but said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has already committed to look into the matter and that the Department of Health is now addressing this concern.
“Very frustrating nga po ‘yun. In fact ako po napu-frustrate,” said Magalong of the lapses in the contact tracing system in some communities.
(It is indeed very frustrating. In fact, I am also getting frustrated.)
“Kaya lang ang maganda ngayon, during our NTF (National Task Force) meeting nagkakadiretsuhan na po, very straight forward ang aming mga pag-uusap na rin, at talagang inamin na po ni Secretary Duque na talagang may malaking pagkukulang at inaayos naman po nila,” Magalong also said.
(But the good thing is during our NTF meeting, our discussions are very straight-forward, and Sec. Duque really admitted that there were indeed lapses which they are now fixing.)
As of Thursday, the country has already logged a total of 119,460 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Of this figure, 50,473 are active cases, 66,837 have recovered, and 2,150 have died.
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