DOH clarifies statement on not having contact tracing teams
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health said Thursday that its statement on not having contact tracing teams has been “blown out of proportion,” explaining that it is now local government units that are locating close contacts of coronavirus disease patients in communities and not the DOH.
“It has to be understood by the public. Because I think this has blown out of proportion,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel, referring to a recent statement of the DOH saying it “does not have a contact tracing team.”
Vergeire explained that at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, it was the DOH, composed of personnel from its Epidemiology Bureau and Disease Prevention and Control Bureau, that go to communities for contact tracing.
“But after that, when DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) was already assigned by the Inter-Agency Task Force to head the contact tracing efforts, we have strengthened the capacity of local government units for them to create or establish these contact tracing teams in their different localities,” she added.
The health official made this clarification following a statement from the health department on Monday saying it “does not have a contact tracing team,” as it warned the public about fake contact tracers posing as personnel of the DOH. The post has earned reactions from some netizens who criticized the DOH for supposedly not having a team to locate close contacts of COVID-19 patients.
According to Vergeire, it is the LGUs through the help of the DILG that hire contact tracers in the communities.
Vergeire said the DOH still has contact tracing teams but added they only go to select areas, including those with clustering of COVID-19 cases.
“For example, there is clustering in this specific workplace and we want to investigate and do surveillance, we will do that and we have that contact tracing team. But definitely for the community and the areas within their jurisdictions, it’s really LGUs and we are just guiding them,” she added.
As of Wednesday, the country has already recorded a total of 143,749 COVID-19 cases, with additional 4,444 reported cases. Of the confirmed cases, 72,348 are active, 68,997 are recoveries, and 2,404 are deaths.
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