Robredo hits slow contact tracing in PH; some patients already recovered when reached
MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo has lamented the slow contact tracing efforts of the government, saying there have been cases where coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients were reached by health authorities after they have already recovered.
Robredo on Sunday said a friend — a doctor in a Pasay City hospital who got infected by the coronavirus last April, was only interviewed recently by the Department of Health (DOH) even if it has been months since the frontliner has recovered from the disease.
The Vice President narrated that the doctor was already back working his shift after almost a month of being confined in a hospital. This she said, means that the doctor returned to work in May but was only reached for contact tracing around July.
“Halimbawa, mayroon akong kaibigan na doktor. Doktor siya sa isang hospital sa Pasay. Nag-positive siya sa COVID early April […] in fact na-hospitalize siya three weeks, so almost a month. Kinuhaan na siya ng lahat, et cetera. Gumaling na siya. In fact, nagdu-duty ulit siya,” Robredo said in her radio program at DZXL.
(For example, my friend who is a doctor from a Pasay hospital tested positive for COVID-19 early April. In fact he was hospitalized for three weeks, so almost a month. They got information from him. Now he has recovered, in fact he is again working.)
“The other day, nag-post siya sa Facebook. Nagko-contact sa kaniya iyong DOH. Hinihingi pa lang sa kaniya iyong details. Eh ang tagal-tagal niya nang gumaling,” she added.
(But the other day, he posted on Facebook that the DOH was doing contact tracing on him. They were asking for the details, but he has recovered a long time ago.)
Robredo relayed that her doctor friend was wondering why it took some time for health authorities to reach her when they have all her details being a frontline health worker.
Robredo then suggested that the government use technology in doing contact tracing, just like what Singapore, Taiwan, and Iceland are doing. These countries said the Vice President, are winning in their fight against COVID-19.
“Halimbawa iyong Singapore, mayroon silang mobile phone app na Trace Together […] ang pinaka-problema nito noong una, effective siya pero iyong mga walang smartphones, hindi nakakasali dito sa mobile phone app. Palagay ko dito sa atin ganiyan din iyong magiging problema, kasi hindi naman lahat may smartphones,” she said.
(For example, Singapore has a mobile phone app Trace Together, which the biggest problem initially was while it was effective, people without smartphones cannot join the app.)
“Pero ang Singapore, namigay siya… namigay siya ng Trace Together tokens […] na kapag dala-dala mo itong token na ito, may battery life siya na nine months, na ito, nade-detect noong app kung nasaan ka, nawa-warning ka nila kung may danger sa vicinity mo, kung may nag-positive sa vicinity mo,” she added.
(What Singapore did was to distribute Trace Together tokens, which you can bring, and has a battery life of nine months. This can detect where you are, would warn if there are dangers near your vicinity, if someone tested positive near you.)
Recently, Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong who was appointed as the country’s contact tracing czar, said that less than one percent of the 600 local government units (LGUs) nationwide has a good tracing system.
According to Magalong, the national government sent out diagnostic questionnaires to assess the LGU’s contact tracing efforts, but only 600 have responded after a week.
And of these, only 0.68 percent were found to have a relatively good system.
Coupled with a slow verification process, as only 126,885 of the 159,676 tested positive patients have been confirmed as being infected, Robredo said that more problems are to emerge.
Especially since it appears that the government is only doing contact tracing when patients have already been confirmed to be carriers of the disease.
“More than 30,000 ang possible na nag-positive, pero hindi pa nako-confirm. Ang laking problema natin, kapag nag-positive na na hindi pa nako-confirm, […] hindi pa iyon nako-contact trace. Ang 30,000 sobrang laki noon,” Robredo said.
(More than 30,000 are possibly positive, but we have not confirmed this. This is a big problem, because if you tested positive but has not been confirmed, you have not been subjected to contact tracing. 30,000 is a big number.)
“Ito iyong aking proposal, kailangan natin ng isang Pandemic Control Platform. Kasi kapag mina-mano-mano natin lahat, sobrang hirap. Alam ko ang DOH nag-hire ng napakaraming mga validators, napakaraming mag-aayos ng data. Okay naman iyon, pero iyong mano-mano matagal, iyong errors napakalaki,” she added.
(So my proposal is for the creation of a Pandemic Control Platform. Because if you input and edit data manually, it would be so hard. I know DOH has hired so many validators, those who can fix data. That is okay, but manual inputs take so long and are prone to more errors.)
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