New DILG chief Abalos wants unified contact tracing app | Inquirer News

New DILG chief Abalos wants unified contact tracing app

/ 05:10 PM July 04, 2022
New DILG chief wants unified contact tracing app

FILE PHOTO: A passenger scans a QR code through her phone during the soft launch of the Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) contact tracing app called MRT-3 Trace at the North Avenue Station in Quezon City, on Monday, January 18, 2021. The digitalization of contract tracing is meant to avoid the further spread of COVID-19. Niño Jesus Orbeta/Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines — A unified contact tracing application should be integrated into the country’s COVID-19 response to lessen the spending on manual contact tracing.

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New Interior Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. made this pitch on Monday, as he also stressed that having a unified contact tracing app would be a greater service to the public as it could ease the process of notifying individuals who have been in contact with a COVID-positive person.

“So aside from the contact tracers, for me, mas malaking maibibigay at mas malaki sigurong serbisyo kung meron tayong application na gagawing mandatory na ito na every time you enter a mall o kung saan, mag-register ka at kung nagkasakit ka, iinform ka na nito,” he said in a press briefing.

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(So aside from the contact tracers, for me, it could provide greater service to the public if we have a contact tracing application that will be made mandatory every time you enter a mall or anywhere, you’ll register and get sick, it will inform you.)

But Abalos refused to comment on what could have been the issues surrounding the Duterte administration-initiated StaySafe App, which only a few of the local government units use.

“I don’t want to dwell kung anong mga naging problema nito but right now siguro kung major project ng DICT (Department of Information and Communications), kailanganin natin ito kasi we cannot tell eh pagdating ng pandemic,” he said.

(I don’t want to dwell on whatever problems this had, but if it’s the major project of DICT, we will need it because we cannot tell when the pandemic will come.)

In 2021, the StaySafe App was developed to address the weak contract tracing efforts of the government amid the persistent threat of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Also last year, former health secretary Francisco Duque III admitted during a Senate hearing that the benefits of the StaySafe App have limitations and have “almost no impact.”

But the Department of the Interior and Local Government previously said the StaySafe App could scan individuals entering establishments about 47 million times and catch 150 infected individuals who tried to enter establishments. — Xander Dave Ceballos, INQUIRER.net intern

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TAGS: contact tracing, COVID-19, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), staysafe app
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