Despite COVID-19 UK variant in PH, DILG to rehire only 15K contact tracers
MANILA, Philippines — Only 15,000 contact tracers nationwide will be rehired even as the new B.1.1.7. SARS-CoV-2 variant (UK variant) threatens the Philippines, the Department of the Interior and Local Government Unit (DILG) said Saturday.
In a statement, DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya explained that they cannot rehire the almost 50,000 contact tracers (CTs) the department hired last year due to “budget limitations.”
“Much as we would like to continue the services of all the 50,000 CTs hired in 2020, we need to have a more rational number of CTs and work within the available budget allotted to the Department. Hence, only 15,000 CTs will be re-hired under a six-month contract in the meantime while we wait for the release of additional funds,” he said.
The Department of Budget and Management has approved P1.9 billion for the rehiring of contact tracing teams, Malaya pointed out.
Last year, the DILG hired 46,338 individuals out of 50,000 people who are needed to track down close contacts of Covid-19-infected Filipinos nationwide.
The contracts of these contact tracers were terminated last Dec. 31, 2020.
In a budget hearing, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto was alarmed about the absence of contact tracing funds, saying it appeared that the government is abandoning one of the essential tasks in reducing community transmission of the virus.
As of Friday, the Philippines documented a total of 496,646 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases with 27,033 active cases, 459,737 recoveries and 9,876 deaths.
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